Mesquite student faces $637 in fines, penalties for swearing in class
28 January 2011 11:13 PM
It’s not just a trip to the principal’s office anymore.
North Mesquite High School senior Victoria Mullins is taking on a waitressing job to pay $637 in fines and other charges after being ticketed for disorderly conduct/abusive language in class.
According to court records, shortly before 10 a.m. on Oct. 6, teacher Michelle Lene heard Mullins say “you trying to start [expletive]!” loudly inside the classroom.
“A kid who is really obnoxious, starts stuff with everyone and always gets on my nerves was bothering me,” Mullins said. “It was wrong on my part.”
She was sent to the office.
“The principal gave me a lunch detention and told me to watch my mouth,” Mullins said.
Meanwhile, the school resource officer was contacted. When Mullins got to her next class, the officer presented the 17-year-old student with the ticket.
The complaint says Lene was offended, and that by its utterance, the language incited a breach of the peace.
Mullins claims what she said wasn’t loud enough to be heard by the entire class and doesn’t know why the teacher was offended. Lene was not available for comment.
The original fine was $340. Mullins pleaded not guilty Oct. 21. She said she tried to submit audiotapes made later from the classroom to show she was being singled out, but the tapes were deemed inadmissible.
Mullins finished the one-semester speech class but didn’t show for her Nov. 18 court hearing.
“I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t have the money to pay for it,” she said.
The failure to show was cause for a $100 penalty. The city tacked on another $50 when it issued a warrant for Mullins’ arrest Jan. 21 and then a $147 collection fee.
School district spokesman Ian Halperin said the incident should be a reminder to parents.
“If your kids do something, there’s a way to handle it to mitigate these situations before you get to this point,” Halperin said.
All Mesquite secondary campuses have a school resource officer. The program is funded by both the city and the school district.
“They’re police officers, they’re in a public place, and they have the statutory authority and responsibility to maintain peace and enforce the law,” Mesquite Police Lt. Bill Hedgpeth said.
The program is also designed to create positive relationships between the students and officers. SROs are to serve as mentors, counselors, teachers and role models for the students, officials said.
Juror recognizes undercover cop on witness stand - and threatens him
Friday, January 21st 2011, 4:00 AM
A Brooklyn juror was tossed in jail for threatening to kill a cop - after he recognized the undercover detective on the witness stand, the Daily News has learned.
Sean Adams, 43, sitting on a grand jury for a narcotics case Wednesday, was right next to the witness stand when the cop took the chair to testify, sources said.
In a bizarre coincidence, the detective was one of several undercover cops who has been investigating Adams in a separate narcotics case.
Adams recognized him and realized the guy he'd been dealing with on the street was really a cop, the sources said.
"Ahh, f--- this guy. I'm going to kill him," Adams said, according to court documents.
The officer, realizing his cover was blown, motioned to the prosecutor to speak outside the courtroom.
After they chatted about the threat, other members of the NYPD's narcotics unit arrested Adams, sources said.
He was arraigned Thursday on charges of tampering with a witness and intimidation of a witness, both felonies. He was held in lieu of $7,500 bail.
The details of the grand jury case were not disclosed. Adams later denied making the threat.
It was not immediately clear if the narcotics case against Adams was compromised because he blew the detective's cover.
Mailman 'clipped' coupons
Stole & sold 'em: cops
Last Updated: 6:51 AM, January 29, 2011
Posted: 1:02 AM, January 29, 2011
Citing pressure from an impending foreclosure, a Queens postal worker stole thousands of retail-store coupons before they were mailed out -- and sold them at a discount on eBay, cops said yesterday.
Thomas Tang, 38, of Baldwin, Long Island, allegedly pilfered more than 7,000 coupons from JCPenney, Kohl's and Lowe's and sold them in batches on the Internet auction site.
Working out of the Corona branch, Tang told investigators that he netted roughly $35,000 from the sale of JCPenney coupons between October 2009 and January of this year.
The father of two advertised batches of mailers that offered $10 dollars off JCPenney merchandise and sold them at steep discounts online, according to court papers. Authorities are investigating how much he netted from the similar sale of other store coupons from outlets like Kohl's and Lowe's.
ROUTE & WRONG: Queens postman Thomas Tang allegedly hoarded coupons (left) he was supposed to deliver on his route.
"I have two small children, and my wife is pregnant," he told cops, according to court documents. "I also have a mortgage, and I have to pay cash for my chil dren's baby sitter. I did not want this to happen, but it was the only way I could avoid having my house fore closed on."
With his tearful wife looking on, the 13-year veteran of the postal service pleaded not guilty yesterday to felony grand larceny and was held on $10,000 bail.
"I just got back from the hospital," his wife said as she left court. "I'm really tired right now. I can't say anything."
Nassau police busted Tang after being approached by JCPenney loss-prevention officials and postal-service investigators, who uncovered his unusual scheme.
Tang, who allegedly pilfered coupons from the Corona office and stacks he dispersed on his route, told investigators that he sold them through his wife's eBay account but that she was ignorant of the crime.
His lawyer, Robert Parker, said at his arraignment that Tang had a spotless record prior to his arrest. "I'm not going to minimize it," he said of the scheme, ". . . but it's certainly not your typical crime."
Parker added that Tang never tampered with first-class mail.
But prosecutor Matthew Lafargue asked the judge for substantial bail and said that stealing from a federal institution and profiting from the proceeds was a serious felony offense.
Tuition breaks for illegal immigrants? Montgomery College faces lawsuit.
Montgomery College recently formalized a policy of granting its lowest tuition rates to a group that includes some undocumented students. A lawsuit claims the policy violates federal and state laws.
Stacy Teicher Khadaroo
Christian Science Monitor
January 28, 2011
Montgomery College in Maryland is the latest stage for the wider debate over tuition breaks for illegals The community college recently formalized a longstanding policy of granting its lowest tuition rates to anyone who has graduated from a Montgomery County high school in the past three years. It does not require proof of legal residency.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of county taxpayers this week claims the policy violates federal and state laws that disallow various benefits for illegal aliens.
Supporters of the college’s policy say there’s no good basis for the lawsuit. Helping undocumented high school graduates afford higher education, they say, provides both social and economic benefits to the county.
The federal DREAM Act, which didn’t make it to the finish line in Congress last year, would have created a path to citizenship for students brought to the United States illegally as minors if they met certain criteria. Instead, such students are subject to a wide variety of state laws on enrollment and tuition at public colleges.
Ten states have laws extending in-state tuition benefits to undocumented students – California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. An 11th, Oklahoma, allows its university system’s governing board to do so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Three states ban in-state tuition for such students – Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia. And South Carolina bans illegal immigrants from enrolling altogether at public colleges and universities.
In a typical year, 30 to 50 bills on either side of the tuition issue are introduced in the states, says Brenda Bautsch, an NCSL education-policy specialist in Denver.
Already this year, lawmakers in California, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have launched efforts to repeal tuition-break laws.
In Maryland, lawmakers have been squaring off. Democratic state Sens. Victor Ramirez and Richard Madaleno are proposing to make some undocumented students eligible for tuition benefits. Republican Patrick McDonough, a Maryland state delegate who encouraged the suit against Montgomery College, is proposing ways to tighten immigration enforcement.
The lawsuit against Montgomery College “is a political maneuver to flare tensions around the topic of immigration, and it has really struck a chord,” says Rosa Lozano, a graduate of the college and a youth organizer who supports the DREAM Act. She hopes the lawsuit will just “push people who felt they were neutral to really stand in support of in-state tuition this year.”
Even without broader measures that would help these students pursue careers once they graduate, she says, access to college is important because “young people who see that they have a future are less likely to fall into the pitfalls of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, or gang violence.”
But opponents of tuition benefits see it differently. Such benefits are part of a broader problem of states and institutions “putting giant welcome signs over their communities” for illegal immigrants, says Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that filed the Montgomery lawsuit on behalf of several local taxpayers.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 20 in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, alleges that by granting in-county tuition rates to students who do not show legal residency, the college lost $5.8 million dollars it should have collected from those students between 2006 and 2009 – money that could have been used to offset state and county taxpayer expenditures.
In a statement this week, Montgomery College countered that the complaint “contains various misrepresentations about College operations and misapplications of law.” The college, which has multiple campuses where about 60,000 students are enrolled a year, defended itself as a contributor to the local economy, not a drain on it.
A 1996 federal immigration law says illegal aliens cannot gain higher-education benefits “on the basis of residence” unless such benefits are also extended to US citizens. States that have passed tuition-benefits laws say they are based on high school attendance or graduation, not residence. Opponents of such laws say that’s a de facto form of residency and therefore violate the federal law.
A recent California Supreme Court ruling upheld California’s in-state tuition benefit for undocumented students. Although other state courts could rule differently, it’s the highest-level court decision on the issue so far. “It could give more confidence to states instituting such laws,” says Ms. Bautsch of NCSL.
Murder, extortion? No, Waterfront Commission probing theft of $2 dollar bottle of iced tea, sausage
A suspect swiped a $2 bottle of iced tea and used it to wash down a stolen piece of sausage.
On the mobbed-up docks of Bayonne the six-month probe was known as Operation Missing Link.
Its target: A suspect who swiped a $2 bottle of iced tea and used it to wash down a stolen 50-cent piece of sausage - the lost link that left a bad taste in everybody's mouth, sources told the Daily News.
An investigation of the penny-ante heist was ordered by the Waterfront Commission, the agency charged with policing the docks for mob corruption, drug smuggling and other major crimes, the sources said.
The investigation included scores of interviews over countless hours dating to last August, sources said - even though the victim was reluctant to press charges.
"It's like Capt. Queeg and the strawberries," said New Jersey state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a harsh critic of the bistate commission.
"It's a $2.50 ongoing investigation."
One of the sources was more blunt: "The whole investigation is bull----. It's a waste of manpower, money and resources."
Waterfront Commission General Counsel Phoebe Soriel, while declining to address specifics, said the case was more complex than it appeared.
"While the commission does not comment on pending investigations, it takes any theft in the port seriously - especially theft involving extortion," she said without going into detail.
The reported value of the stolen goods - a handful of change - is a microfraction of the $200 billion that moves annually through the ports of New York and New Jersey.
The overkill began when the commission received an anonymous tip that someone filched the drink and the sausage from a food truck catering to dock workers.
According to two sources, the case was quickly wrapped up: The thief confessed to the crime, and the victim said an arrest was unnecessary.
The victim "didn't want to see him behind bars...just wanted him to stop," one source said.
But top commission officials, convinced its investigators mishandled the case, ordered a second probe with every possible witness reinterviewed, the sources said.
Investigators from the 58-year-old agency returned to the docks and conducted about 80 second interviews, all the while cranking out piles of paperwork, the sources said.
The commission was blasted in August 2009 - one year before the sausage investigation was launched - as home to corrupt execs barely better than the waterfront's notorious mobsters.
Officials were accused in a ing 60-page report of misusing Homeland Security money, keeping a convicted crook in business and surfing the Internet for porn.
The iced-tea-and-sausage probe - which has yet to wrap up - is considered an embarrassment among investigators and dock workers.
"They snicker about it," one of the sources said.
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Americans won't buy the tea party's free market snake oil
11:30 AM EST, January 26, 2011
In the topsy-turvy, Alice-in-Wonderland alternative universe of the tea party and its Republican toadies, small-government and free-market economic policy will save the nation from disaster. In fact, as thinking Americans know full well, the current economic crisis is largely due to the unmitigated greed of Wall Street banks and American homeowners, abetted for years by the "free market" nonsense that Reps. Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann continue to foist on the public. When the history of this era is written, it will be clear that the Obama administration's aggressive action saved the nation from a fate far worse than the current recession.
Ellicott City, Maryland
The Baltimore Sun
8:05 PM CST, January 27, 2011
A 53-year-old man arrested more than 250 times was in custody again Thursday night, accused of trespassing at O'Hare International Airport, according to Chicago police.
Elijah Goodlett, whose last known address was on the 1000 block of North Central Avenue, was charged with criminal trespassing and soliciting unlawful business, both misdemeanors.
Goodlett was arrested at about 11:30 a.m. after trying to get travelers to let him carry their luggage.
Police said he was being locked up overnight because he violated his bail on a prior case, in which he is accused of trespassing at the airport.
Court records show many of his other arrests were on misdemeanor criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.
Goodlett is due in court Friday.
Jay Carney To Be Next White House Press Secretary
First Posted: 01/27/11 03:27 PM Updated: 01/27/11 05:58 PM
Jay Carney, Vice President Joe Biden's top spokesman, is taking over the post of White House Press Secretary, multiple Democratic sources confirmed to The Huffington Post.
Carney will be taking over the position being vacated by Robert Gibbs at a time when much of the original inner Obama circle is either leaving the White House or heading to Chicago to help with the re-election campaign.
CNN's Ed Henry first reported the news.
Carney was chosen from a candidate pool of roughly five, including several current members of the White House's communications team. One of those individuals, former DNC Communications Director Karen Finney (a paid contributor to MSNBC) praised the decision. "Jay will be great, he's well respected, in addition to his background as a journalist, his work with the Vice President on domestic and foreign policy issues will be a huge asset," she said.
In private, it was widely expected that Carney would end up at the post.
The choice caused a bit of rancor. Carney, who is known as being a bit more brass-knuckled than Gibbs and the other contenders, is, nevertheless, a creature of D.C., having previously served as TIME magazine's Washington bureau chief. In that regard, he is no different than many of the other administration hires. But that was still enough to cause some eye rolls.
"Most of us thought that hiring someone from the outside was likely 'too much' change," said one top Democratic strategist.
From the C-SPAN archives comes this 2006 quote from Carney -- then the Washington bureau chief of Time Magazine -- discussing the difficulties of the position he is set to assume.
"The best press secretaries were very deft at serving both their boss, the president, the White House, the administration, and the press. It's a tricky job. I'm sure I wouldn't be any good at it."
UPDATE: White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley sent the following email to staffers announcing Carney's new position, as well as thirteen other people taking on new roles:
Today, I am pleased to announce a number of important White House personnel decisions. I believe these decisions will bring greater clarity to our structure and roles and will enhance coordination and collaboration among us. I am excited about these changes and I look forward to working with all of you - those in existing roles as well as those filling new roles - in the weeks and months ahead. We have a great team.
I want to thank Pete Rouse for his counsel and leadership in this effort. My mission is to get the most out of the great talent that President Obama has brought to the White House so that we can all help him effectively serve and lead the American people.
Below are the names and titles of those assuming new roles:
- Ron Bloom, Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy (National Economic Council)
- Jay Carney, Assistant to the President and Press Secretary
- Stephanie Cutter, Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor
- Nancy-Ann DeParle, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
- David Lane, Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Chief of Staff
- Alyssa Mastromonaco, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
- Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President and Director of Legislative Affairs
- Emmett Beliveau, Deputy Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the Chief of Staff
- Jon Carson, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement
- Danielle Crutchfield, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Scheduling and Advance
- David Cusack, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Advance
- Mike Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to the Senior Advisor
- Jessica Wright, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Scheduling
- Brian Deese, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
Some of you may have heard that Phil Schiliro's intention was to leave the White House at the end of the last Congress. Phil has made extraordinary contributions to the President's success, and I've asked him to slow his departure in order to lend his wise counsel and guidance in the transition period ahead.
I am looking forward to collaborating with all of you. Effective collaboration requires a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, so that we can hold each other accountable for the duties we've each undertaken. In coming days, I hope to clarify further the roles each of our offices needs to play, so we can continue to work together in the highly productive way the that we must.
I want to thank each of you for your hard work and for your commitment to serving the President and American people. We've got a lot of important work ahead of us.
Man released in 12-year-old's murder is arrested on drug charges
January 27, 2011 07:00 PM
A Fall River man who won a $14 million judgment in a civil suit after being wrongfully convicted in an infamous 1988 murder case has been arrested on drug charges, authorities said.
Shawn Drumgold, 45, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment today in Roxbury District Court to charges including possession of a Class A substance with intent to distribute, and was released on $500 cash bail, according to Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. Drumgold is due back in court on March 15.
His attorney, Rosemary C. Scapicchio of Boston, said in a phone interview that she believes he is innocent of the new charges.
‘‘It appears that he was back in Boston hanging around the wrong crowd,’’ said Scapicchio, who also represented Drumgold during his civil suit. ‘‘It was a poor choice of his to put himself in that situation, but I don’t believe he was out there selling drugs, no."
According to a Boston police report, an informant told police earlier this month that drugs were being sold out of an apartment on Cardington Street in Roxbury. Police raided the apartment on Wednesday, the report states, and recovered several bags of heroin and crack cocaine, as well as $304 cash from Drumgold’s person. He was arrested along with several other suspects, authorities said.
In 2003, Drumgold was released from prison after spending more than 14 years behind bars for the shooting death of 12-year-old Darlene Tiffany Moore, who was struck by gunfire as she sat atop a mail box near her mother’s home in the Grove Hall section of Roxbury.
The killing, which police investigated as a gang shooting gone awry, stunned the city and spurred a massive investigation to hunt down those responsible. Drumgold, then 23, was charged with the murder on Aug. 29, 1988, 10 days after the slaying. He went on trial the following October with an alleged accomplice, Terrence ‘‘Lug’’ Taylor.
While Taylor was acquitted after a judge said there was insufficient evidence to sustain a murder charge against him, Drumgold was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
However, Drumgold was released in November 2003 after prosecutors said they believed he was wrongfully convicted because he did not receive a fair trial. In April 2008, a federal jury in Boston ruled that a city police detective violated Drumgold’s civil rights during the investigation by concealing that he gave money to a key prosecution witness before that witness testified in the murder trial. The jury awarded Drumgold $14 million, plus interest, in October 2009.
A call to a number listed for Drumgold was not returned today.
‘‘I’m excited,’’ he said in the courthouse lobby in 2009 after the jury announced the award. ‘‘It’s been a long battle, but we’ve still got a long way to go.’’
Scapicchio said Drumgold has been working as a day laborer but has not received any job training or counseling from the state, which is required by law under the wrongful conviction statute.
‘‘I’m sure that 15 years of demons [in prison] takes a lot of counseling to take care of,’’ she said.
William Sinnott, corporation counsel for the city, said tonight in a statement that the city is awaiting the court’s final judgment on the verdict before deciding whether or not to appeal the $14 million award. Drumgold has not yet received any of the money, city officials said.
The Moore case remains open but no additional arrests have been made, according to Wark.
He said tonight that the Roxbury apartment — not any one suspect — was the primary target of the most recent drug investigation. At today's arraignment, Wark said, a prosecutor referenced Drumgold’s four-page rap sheet, which included several drug and motor vehicle offenses.
31-year fugitive from Black Tuna drug gang arrested
A key member of the infamous Miami-based Black Tuna Gang, the biggest U.S. marijuana-smuggling operation of its time, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service Thursday morning in West Palm Beach -- more than 31 years after he skipped out of a federal trial.
Mark Steven Phillips, 62, was captured at his rented apartment in a senior living community, law officers said.
``The judge wants to see you, Mark,'' a deputy U.S. marshal told Phillips after rousting him out of bed.
``The judge wants to see me from 30 years ago,'' Phillips responded, according to the Marshals Service.
Phillips was arrested in May 1979 along with a dozen others in what was then the nation's biggest pot importation cases in history -- before the dawn of the Cocaine Cowboy era in Miami. The trial was before U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King, who is still on the bench. Phillips was convicted in absentia on racketeering, possession and distribution charges in February 1980.
He is scheduled to have his first court appearance in decades before a Miami federal magistrate Thursday afternoon.
A joint DEA/FBI task force in Miami that took down the Black Tuna Gang estimated the ring smuggled 500 tons of marijuana into the United States over a 16-month period. The case was the first combined investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI on drug profits behind the marijuana trade.
The gang operated, at least briefly, from a suite in Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Hotel, according to the DEA.
The Tunas invested in yachts, particularly Fort Lauderdale-based Striker Aluminum Yachts. Its treasurer, Phillips, whose family owned the company, retrofitted yachts for maximum carrying capacity, painting water lines on the hulls to give the illusion they weren't riding low even when they were laden with tons of marijuana.
The grass was transported in these modified boats and unloaded at a series of waterfront ``stash houses'' in posh neighborhoods.
The Black Tuna gang also used state-of-the-art electronic equipment to stay in touch with marijuana-laden freighters and to monitor DEA and Customs communications channels.
A DEA-FBI probe of Florida banks called Operation Banco, which began in 1977, traced the group's drug profits through South Florida banks until members of the Black Tuna Gang made a large cash deposit in a Miami Beach bank.
In the racketeering indictment, Phillips was accused of showing two vessels in 1977 to a co-conspirator that had been used in the smuggling of 20 tons of marijuana into the United States. He also was accused of going to a Miami address to pick up a suitcase filled with cash, and paying $223,000 to buy a yacht for future marijuana smuggling trips.
After his arrest, Phillips was released from custody on July 5, 1979, on a $25,000 bond. He took part in his trial for more than a month, but then failed to show up on Nov. 5. King issued a bench warrant charging him as a fugitive.
The Marshals Service soon learned Phillips had fled the country.
In 1993, relying on informants, deputies discovered that he was in Santiago, Chile, had assumed a new identity, Marcus Steffan, and had married a Chilean woman. He also created a fishing company with her, calling it Fishing Research Inc., according to the marshals.
Eight years passed before deputy marshals received new information that he was traveling between Chile and Germany. They learned from German authorities that Phillips had obtained a driver's license and passport in that country in the name of ``Marcus Steffan.''
According to the marshals, the ``fake'' passport was valid for the next 10 years.
Knowing his new identity, deputy marshals began running checks on Phillips to see if he had entered the United States. They found that he flew into New York from London in August of 2000, and again several other times in 1999 and 1998.
In February 2001, they discovered that he had been renting two New York penthouse apartments for $10,000 a month, using the name of Steffan Marcus, but that he had been evicted the previous year.
Deputy marshals learned that Phillips flew from New York to Miami in January 2001, but they missed him by one month. He had continued on to Chile. He stayed there until 2010, when deputy marshals assigned to the Cold Case Fugitive Squad realized that he had slipped back into the United States and obtained a Florida driver's license under his real name in September.
The address on his new license was in Miami's historic black neighborhood, Overtown: 1050 NW 14th St., Apt. 430. It was the address of a motel.
Deputy marshals continued to track him down, this time to West Palm Beach, where they arrested him Thursday at the senior living community.
``Phillips never attempted to use his fake name,'' said Marshals Service spokesman Barry Golden. ``All of his belongings were contained in one travel bag.''
Sarah Palin harshly criticizes Obama's State of the Union address
In a blistering Facebook response to Obama's address, Sarah Palin says the president has lost the trust of the American people. The message is seen as a further move toward Palin becoming a presidential candidate.
7:55 AM PST, January 27, 2011
Reporting from Washington
Positioning herself more and more like a presidential candidate, Sarah Palin issued a lengthy and blistering response to President Obama's State of the Union address late Wednesday, saying that the president had lost the trust of the American people.
"Real leadership is more than just words; it's deeds," the former Alaska governor said in a message published on Facebook. "The president's deeds don't lend confidence that we can trust his words spoken" Tuesday night.
Like many Republicans, Palin equated Obama's call for renewed investment in education, infrastructure and technology as a mandate for ramped-up federal spending. Echoing President Clinton's State of the Union address in 1996, Palin said Obama was telling the public: "The era of big government is here as long as I am, so help me pay for it."
And adding a touch of snark, she said, Obama "dubbed it a "Winning The Future" speech, but the title's acronym seemed more accurate than much of the content."
Palin largely had been silent on the national stage since she posted a video response earlier this month to critics who tied her firearm-flavored campaign rhetoric to the shootings in Tucson. Those remarks then drew further criticism from some who said that she appeared too defensive and unconcerned with the victims, while also drawing the condemnation of some Jewish leaders for using the term "blood libel" to describe the attacks on her.
But her 1,700-word response to Obama's speech suggests that Palin is assuming a role as one of Obama's central antagonists. In it, she also accuses the president of not paying enough attention to the federal debt.
"Our country's future is at stake, and we're rapidly reaching a crisis point," Palin said. "Our government is spending too much, borrowing too much, and growing too much. Debt is stifling our private sector growth, and millions of Americans are desperately looking for work."
And she went to great pains to distinguish her oft-repeated view of "American exceptionalism" from Obama's: "He couched his proposals to grow government and increase spending in the language of 'national greatness,' Palin said. "This seems to be the Obama administration's version of American exceptionalism – an 'exceptionally big government,' in which a centralized government declares that we shall be great and innovative and competitive, not by individual initiative, but by government decree. Where once he used words like 'hope' and 'change,' the president may now talk about 'innovation' and 'competition'; but the audacity of his recycled rhetoric no longer inspires hope."
Palin made passing mention of the "tea party" -- and firmly embraced that movement's populist persona, saying that Obama is allied with big business and that everyday Americans would suffer as a result."It's basically a corporatist agenda – it's the collaboration between big government and the big businesses that have powerful friends in D.C. and can afford to hire big lobbyists," she said, labeling that collaboration "crony capitalism."
Quoting President Reagan, Palin said, 'You can't be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy." President Obama's proposals [Tuesday] night stick the little guy with the bill, while big government and its big corporate partners prosper."
Palin wasn't the only possible presidential candidate to respond to the president's speech. Mitt Romney, appearing on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News on Wednesday evening, called Obama "misguided."
"He's trying awfully hard," the former Massachusetts governor said. "The problem is that he really doesn't know what to do."
Like Palin, Romney said that the president failed to offer specific plans to reduce unemployment and government spending. "He starts off by saying the right things," Romney said. "He doesn't understand that the entrepreneurial spirit of free men and women unfettered from an excessive government regulatory and taxation environment is the right way to create jobs and to build the new enterprises that frankly have powered us in the past and can power us in the future."
"It's sad to watch in some respects," Romney said.
Despite not formally announcing presidential bids, both potential candidates have been raising money at a furious pace through their political action committees. As reported earlier by The Times Romney has raised more than $9 million over last two years and Palin has raised more than $5.5 million.
Crazed mom accused of trying to poison husband's mistress so she'd have an abortion cuts dealOren Yaniv
Wednesday, January 26th 2011, 1:59 PM
Ward for NewsKisha Jones had no criminal history and a life-long record of helping disabled kids, her lawyer said.
A crazed Brooklyn mom who tried to forcibly abort her cheating hubby's love child by poisoning his mistress cut a deal with prosecutors Wednesday that could have out of prison in less than two years.
Kisha Jones, 40, was seven months pregnant when she tricked Monique Hunter, 26, into taking an abortion-inducing medication on October 2009.
Jones' hubby, Anthony Jones, had knocked up both his wife and mistress around the same time, said defense lawyer Barry Turner.
"My client was in the last trimester of her pregnancy and was acting irrationally," he said outside court.
"I guess her hormones were out of whack."
Turner said accused Hunter of taunting his client, leaving phone messages with details of her three-year affair - and claiming Jones' man would soon leave her.
Jones had no criminal history and a life-long record of helping disabled kids, and deserved a break, Turner said.
She was under mounting pressure expecting her fourth child and "she acted in a manner that wasn't consistent with her personality," the lawyer said.
Jones admitted that, using a forged prescription and phone number-disguising software, she called Hunter and got her to take cytotec, causing her to go into early labor.
She was also accused of then trying to kill the premature newborn in the maternity ward and later impersonating a hospital exec to try getting the baby off a ventilator - but those attempted murder charges were dropped.
Wearing a knitted pink hat, the spurned spouse pleaded Wednesday to a lesser charge of second-degree assault.
Prosecutors signed off on the plea deal "after careful consideration and only after talking to the victim in this case many times," assistant district attorney David Klestzick told the judge.
Jones will be sentenced to four years in the klink on Feb. 10 - but with time served and credit for good behavior, she could be out in a year and eight months.
Turner said that Jones and her husband are still married and that Anthony Jones cares for the children and is involved with his wife's legal defense.
It wasn't clear if he has contact with Hunter or her child.
"Everybody's fine," the lawyer said. "The baby is fine, Monique Hunter is fine."
Lawsuit filed in beef over Taco Bell "meat"
6:32 p.m. EST, January 24, 2011
LINK TO VIDEO:
Fifteen special interest heavy hitters Democrats cannot ignore
01/25/11 8:05 PM
These 15 individuals are among the most important power brokers with undeniable leverage to most shape campaigns, candidates and policies in the Democratic Party. There are other Democratic heavy hitters, to be sure, but these 15 are must-haves on any list of those who cannot be ignored.
Briefs and Cash
Gary M. Paul
President, American Association for Justice (AAJ)
Come July, the American Association for Justice, the chief political and lobbying voice of the class-action trial lawyers industry, will be headed by Gary M. Paul, a name partner in a firm -- Waters, Kraus and Paul in Los Angeles -- that proudly claims to have filed more class action asbestos plaintiffs suits than any other firm in the country.
Members of Paul's firm contributed at least $366,000 to political candidates during the 2010 campaign, with more than $364,000 of the total going to Democratic candidates and committees. And the AAJ PAC is the biggest among all legal PACs, according to OpenSecrets.org, giving more than $2.7 million in 2010 contributions, all but $68,500 going to Democrats.
Master Arm Twister
Chief Lobbyist/Executive Committee, American Association for Justice
When Members of Congress see Linda Lipsen coming, they know it's likely to involve a new request to do something or a request for a status report on the last request for a favor for the trial lawyers. And they often make requests.
Lipsen isn't personally a high dollar contributor -- having made only $15,500 in contributions to federal candidates in 2010, with all but $500 going to Democrats and Democratic groups -- despite being paid more than $360,000 annually by AAJ (according to the group's most recently available IRS Form 990).
But senators and representatives know Lipsen represents one of the most powerful lobbies in town and one that routinely is among the most generous contributors to Democrats. No wonder in naming Lipsen one of the top lobbyists on Capitol Hill in 2009, The Hill noted that "with Democrats in power across Washington, the trial bar association and Lipsen have plenty of energy."
Gerald W. "Jerry" McEntee
President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
International president of the 1.4 million-member AFSCME since 1981, McEntee runs one of the most politically active unions in America, dubbed the United States' largest single contributor to political campaigns by the Center for Responsive Politics, with nearly 99 percent going to Democrats. AFSCME is the nation's largest public employee and health care workers union.
AFSME campaigns for a range of issues, from urging larger unemployment benefits to fighting efforts to substitute vacation time for overtime pay. In the 2008 presidential election, AFSCME first endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, then switched to Obama after he won the nomination and pledged $50 million to his campaign. McEntee is a member of the Democratic National Committee and was a "super delegate" from Pennsylvania at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009, Trumka was its Secretary-Treasurer (1995 to 2009), and previously president of the United Mine Workers (1982 to 1995). He worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines to pay for college, earned a law degree from Villanova University, and went to work for the United Mine Workers as a staff attorney in 1974. He was elected UMW president in 1982.
Trumka's AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 unions with 11 million workers, wields enormous influence in Democratic politics. In 1996, Trumka allied himself with a leftist group, becoming a co-founder of Robert Borosage's Campaign for America's Future. An anti-racism speech Trumka gave in 2008 went viral on YouTube, a labor first.
Iconic union boss
Andrew L. "Andy" Stern,
Former President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
President of the 2.2 million-member SEIU from 1996 to 2010, Stern made it the nation's fastest-growing union and OpenSecrets.org's 10th biggest all-time political contributor, with 93 percent going to Democrats, much of it for door-to-door canvassing and other Get-Out-The-Vote actions.
SEIU gave Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign $65 million and $60 million to President Obama's successful 2008 effort, plus another $25 million to other Democratic candidates.
Stern worked forcefully to revitalize the labor movement through legislation, helping design Obama's health care reform, pushing union growth via Card Check, disempowering business with strong regulations and higher taxes.
In 1992, Stern and his then-wife Jane Perkins, head of Friends of the Earth, started the Blue-Green Working Group to merge Big Labor with Big Green, helped by the Sierra Club's Carl Pope. In 2005, Stern pulled SEIU out of the AFL-CIO over expansion disputes.
Left-wing Makeover Master
Executive Chairman, Sierra Club
A 30-year Sierra Club veteran, Pope grew from associate conservation director (1980s) to long leadership as executive director, and stepped down last year to continue as chairman with a focus on climate change. Pope transformed Sierra from a litigious nature preservation group to an activist-oriented left-wing political machine.
Pope's levers on Democratic policy also come from his also being a director or adviser of numerous other key groups: Apollo Alliance, Alliance for Climate Protection, Clinton Global Initiative, California League of Conservation Voters, Public Voice, National Clean Air Coalition, California Common Cause and Zero Population Growth.
Brains and Power
Joshua S. Reichert
Managing Director, Pew Environment Group
Josh Reichert has been the giant Pew Charitable Trusts' smartest and most effective star since 1990, and now leads its Pew Environment Group. He is the chief architect and founder of an incredible catalog of environmental groups, including Oceana, the National Environmental Trust, SeaWeb, Earth Force, the Ocean Law Project, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Clear the Air, the Campaign for America's Wilderness, the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, the Ocean Wildlife Campaign and the Pew Oceans Commission.
Reichert holds a PhD in anthropology and the strings to a Pew-sized purse of grant money to other environmental groups, and is known for treating each grant as an investment that must produce results. He is courted and feared by environmental leaders for his Godfatherly listening mannerism and his doom-or-destiny decisions. He's also a Humane Society of the United States director.
Biggest Big Green Resume
Albert A. Gore, Jr.
Chairman, Alliance for Climate Protection, investor
As 45th vice-president of the United States, narrator of "An Inconvenient Truth," which won an Academy Award and prompted his Nobel Peace Prize, Gore is co-founder and chairman of Current Media, LLC.
He is chairman of Alliance for Climate Protection and Generation Investment Management; a director of Apple, Inc. and World Resources Institute; a senior advisor of Google, Inc. and Silver Spring Networks, Inc.; a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (venture capital firm), an investor in Capricorn Investment Group, a donor to the Climate Project, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and a visiting professor at Middle Tennessee State University. Gore's net worth is estimated to be in excess of $100 million.
Quirky Left-Wing Messiah
Open Society Institute, Soros Fund Management
A Hungarian-born American billionaire who once said he felt "godlike," Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute, and a former board member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He spent millions undermining the governments of the Soviet Union, Serbia, Hungary, and Georgia, then decided communism was no longer the problem, it was capitalism.
Soros spent $23 million trying to defeat President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004. He was also an initial donor to the Center for American Progress and the Democracy Alliance and routinely funds a wide range of left-leaning groups. His Open Society Institute spends about $600 million a year on left-wing programs in more than 60 countries. His 2010 net worth was $14.0 billion, making him the 35th richest man in the world.
Tentacles of the Left
Tides Network of organizations
With over 200 groups under his Tides umbrella, hundreds of members in the Tides Nonprofit Centers Network, and $143 million given in 3,532 grants in 2010 alone, Pike funnels more money to more left-wing infrastructure than anyone else. Pike's Tides Foundation opened in 1976 with the money of Jane Bagley Lehman, Reynolds tobacco heiress and president of Arca Foundation, and gradually grew into today's vast network.
Pike is a board member of the Democracy Alliance, the Environmental Working Group, and the Network for Good, and is chairman and CEO of the Tides Advocacy Fund, a lobbying group. He has incubated numerous groups that later became successful stand-alones, including projects of the Pew Charitable Trusts. He has developed the anonymous "donor-advised fund" into a powerful tool for anonymous donors to support controversial groups.
Herb and Marion Sandler
The Sandler Foundation
Founders of the scandal-plagued Golden West Financial Corporation that sank Wachovia, leading to its cut-rate sale to Wells Fargo, Herb and Marion Sandler were long-time funders of liberal causes when John Podesta snagged them in 2003 as initial donors to his Center for American Progress (CAP).
The couple created the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation in 1991, supporting Human Rights Watch, gay and lesbian rights, abortion rights, and MoveOn.org, as well as art museums, universities and the local Bay Area Jewish Community Fund.
Marion Sandler is a board member of CAP, while Herb founded ProPublica, a non-profit investigative reporting group spewing out blatantly left-wing anti-development, anti-gun, anti-fossil fuel stories.
Smartest Political Operative
President and CEO, Center for American Progress
It's tough to find a better political strategist and tactician than former Clinton White House chief of staff and Obama transition team co-leader John Podesta. His Center for American Progress was conceived in the Democratic National Committee by a seven-person "brain trust" convened by Chairman Terry MacAuliffe, incorporated in 2002 as the American Majority Institute and re-launched a year later as CAP, with the aim of defeating President Bush in 2004.
Podesta is closely linked to power players who can be rapidly mobilized for manufactured constituency actions, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Education Fund, Women's Voices -- Women Vote, the League of Conservation Voters and the Apollo Alliance.
Founder, EMILY's List
The heiress of an IBM founder, Malcolm took a staff job with Common Cause in the 1970s, then served as press secretary for the National Women's Political Caucus, and later took a consumer affairs job in the Carter administration.
In 1985, she founded EMILY's List and built it into the richest political advocacy organization in America, supporting pro-abortion female Democrat candidates for office. EMILY stands for "Early Money Is Like Yeast." That is, it helps raise the dough: It scares off challengers and draws more donors.
Malcolm is legendary for her fundraising skill, relentless at "the ask," being one of the wealthy herself, at ease prying money from her peers. Her skill at political campaigning is also remarkable -- as its president, she made America Coming Together (ACT) the biggest 527 group in the 2004 Bush-Kerry election. EMILY's List helped elect 16 Democratic women in the 2008 cycle.
Everywhere at Once
Founder, Huffington Post
Greek-born American media maven and political celebrity, Huffington is best known for her left-wing news website, Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to media, style and comedy, with news, blogs and other original material. HuffPost gets a million comments a month, and now has local versions in New York, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles.
25 Major Players
1. Frances Beinecke (30 years with Natural Resources Defense Council, president since 2006; Obama-appointed member, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling)
2. Simon Rosenberg (founded the centrist New Democrat Network, 1996; NDN's Phoenix Group prompted creation of the Democracy Alliance, 2005)
3. Teresa Heinz (Founder, Heinz Endowments, substantial funder of left-leaning groups; founder, Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, giving annual $250,000 awards; married to Sen. John Kerry)
4. John Doerr (venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers with Al Gore; appointed to President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board; pushes clean energy government subsidies hard, funds candidates and activists; net worth $1.7 billion)
5. David Fenton (Founder and CEO of Fenton Communications, top left-wing PR firm using professional ad and PR tools for leftist non-profits)
6. Susan Packard Orr (Chairman, Packard Foundation; founder Telosa Software, fundraising tools for non-profits; highly demanding of grant recipients; arranged media training for scientists to popularize global warming)
7. Paul Helmke (President, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; former president, United States Conference of Mayors; vociferous activist against gun rights)
8. Terry O'Neill (President, National Organization for Women, chair, NOW Political Action Committee; feminist attorney, professor of law, Tulane and University of California at Davis; activist for "social justice" issues)
9. Carl Ferenbach (chairman, Environmental Defense Fund; managing director, Berkshire Partners, private equity firm not related to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway)
10. William H. Meadows III (President and key lobbyist, The Wilderness Society; chairman, Pew Campaign for America's Wilderness; director, League of Conservation Voters)
11. Joshua Mailman (heir of a large transportation conglomerate fortune; co-founder, Threshold Foundation and Social Venture Network; created or funded many other social investment entities)
12. Nancy R. Bagley, (President, Arca Foundation; editor-in-chief, Washington Life magazine;, Clinton White House health care initiative consultant; Clinton-Gore 1992 campaign advance staff; funds far-left groups and programs)
13. David Brock (Founder and president, Media Matters for America, Tides Foundation incubated, recently Soros-funded, anti-conservative attack group, mostly against Fox News; formerly conservative writer)
14. Hal Harvey (Founder and CEO, Climate Works; founder and president, the Energy Foundation; funds groups opposing fossil fuels, pushes for clean energy subsidies)
15. Robert Borosage (Co-director, Campaign for America's Future, author Taking Back America; associate editor, The Nation; columnist, Huffington Post)
16. Brent Blackwelder (President, Friends of the Earth 1994-2010, now emeritus; most radical of the larger green group leaders)
17. Wayne Pacelle (President and CEO, Humane Society of the United States since 2004, chief lobbyist 1994-2004; executive director Fund for Animals 1989-1994. Absorbed Doris Day Animal League in 2006)
18. Margery Tabankin (executive director of Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation and the Barbra Streisand Foundation; directs grants to numerous left-leaning groups; early member, 1967, radical Students for a Democratic Society; director 1977-81, VISTA, a federal agency; executive director 1981-1984, Arca Foundation)
19. Michael Shellenberger (Co-author, The Death of Environmentalism; co-founder, Breakthrough Institute; worked at Fenton Communications; contracted to do public relations in the U.S. for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez)
20. Lawrence Mishel (President, Economic Policy Institute, premier left-wing labor think tank; frequently testifies before and briefs congressional committees on economics)
21. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (Founder and publisher, Daily Kos, a popular blog on left-wing issues and Democratic Party politics; fellow at NDN's New Politics Institute; founded the YearlyKos Convention, rebranded in 2007 as Netroots Nation)
22. Norman Lear (Founder and board member, People for the American Way; television producer)
23. Andrew Kimbrell (Executive director, Center for Food Safety in 1997; executive director of International Center for Technology Assessment in 1994; environmental attorney strongly opposed to industrial agriculture and mass market food supply)
24. Phil Angelides (Chair, Apollo Alliance, and appointed chairman of Obama's Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission)
25. Tim Gill (Founder, Connexion.org, a Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender advocacy group: America's top gay funder)
Compiled by Examiner Contributor Ron Arnold, author of "Undue Influence" and "Freezing in the Dark," books that detail how special interests operate within and without the Democratic Party to advance their agendas.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/special-reports/2011/01/special-report-fifteen-special-interest-heavy-hitters-democrats-cann#ixzz1C5cGR3QE
Do pets pose another threat to safe driving?
SUE MANNING, The Associated Press
Posted: 01/21/2011 02:45:54 PM PST
Updated: 01/21/2011 02:49:14 PM PST
This product image courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith shows the Car Safety Harness available from Drs. Foster and Smith. Experts advise pets be restrained with a harness or carrier when riding in moving vehicles. (AP Photo/Drs. Foster and Smith)
FILE- This Sept. 12, 2007 file photo shows a small dog leaning out a window... (Robin Loznak)
While lawmakers have been banning drivers from texting or using cell phones, many motorists are riding around with another dangerous risk – their dogs.
Experts say an unrestrained dog – whether curled up on a lap, hanging out the window or resting its paws on the steering wheel – can be deadly. Tens of thousands of car accidents are believed caused every year by unrestrained pets, though no one has solid numbers.
"An unrestrained pet can be hugely distracting – if he is seeking your attention, putting his face right in front of yours, starts chewing up the upholstery or is vomiting because he is carsick," said Katherine Miller, director of applied science and research for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The issue is drawing attention in some statehouses. Hawaii is the only state that specifically forbids drivers from operating a vehicle with a pet on their lap. But Oregon lawmakers are considering fining drivers who hold their pets behind the wheel. And some cities are taking action, too.
In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Cell phones were the top distraction – the cause of 18 percent of the fatalities and 5 percent of the injury crashes. The agency does not track
Advertisement accidents caused by pets, but said they are counted among other distractions such as disruptive passengers, misbehaving children or drivers who attempt to put on makeup or read.
Author Stephen King suffered several broken bones and a collapsed lung in 1999 when he was hit by a driver who claimed he was distracted by his dog.
In a crash, an unrestrained pet can turn into a deadly projectile or get crushed by a driver or passenger who is thrown forward by the collision.
Good pet owners will use a harness or carrier and secure their pets in the middle of the back seat, Miller said. That keeps dogs from getting hurt or bouncing around and hurting others.
"A pet that weighs 50 pounds, in a 35 mph collision, is projected forward like a cannonball with 1,500 pounds of force, and that can cause critical injuries to the folks in the front seat," Miller said.
Restraining a pet also keeps the animal from running off after a crash and possibly getting hit or causing another crash, or from getting in the way of first responders, she said.
Susan Footh, 37, of Whitewood, S.D., said her 12-pound Maltese named Mozart could have been killed twice if he hadn't been wearing a harness.
Footh was on her way to a Christmas gathering when her car veered out of control on ice. She smashed into a highway barrier three times before the vehicle stopped. Presents flew through the car, her coffee splattered all over the back window. But Mozart stayed put.
Then, a few weeks ago, another driver clipped her bumper while trying to pass, sending her first into a spin and then into a ditch.
"Mozart was shaking. I'm sure he was saying, 'Not again,'" Footh said. She was able to put the car into four-wheel-drive and climb out of the ditch.
In Oregon, lawmakers will vote in the next few months on a bill that proposes a $90 fine for people who drive with an animal on their lap.
A similar law made it to the governor's desk in California in 2008, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to sign it, saying it was not a high priority.
Bill Pace, the former assemblyman from Visalia who introduced the failed bill, said he frequently sees drivers with "animals up in their face, in their lap and on the steering wheel. ... This is not a rare occurrence."
Some cities have passed laws of their own. In Troy, Mich., a law took effect Jan. 1 that makes it illegal to drive with a pet in your lap.
But Jonathan Adkins, communications director for the Governors Highway Safety Association, doubts that many states will single out pets.
Elected officials "can't have a law to outlaw every bad driver behavior," he said. "You go after the big ones."
But Adkins said the problem is underreported because the only way to know that a pet was at fault is if the driver says so.
Education about pet restraints will have to come from pet owners, vets, animal-welfare agencies and insurance companies, he added. And that could take years, just as it took a long time to get people to wear seat belts.
For pet owners, Footh said, the answer is easy.
It takes no more than 10 seconds for her to hook Mozart into his $12 harness. He helps by hopping up on the seat and waiting for her to snap it.
"My dog is my baby. I want him to live a long and healthy life," she said. "It's not just about feeding him and loving him. It's about keeping him safe in every way, and that includes when we are in the car."
Why Almost Everything You Hear About Medicine Is Wrong
January 24, 2011
If you follow the news about health research, you risk whiplash. First garlic lowers bad cholesterol, then—after more study—it doesn’t. Hormone replacement reduces the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women, until a huge study finds that it doesn’t (and that it raises the risk of breast cancer to boot). Eating a big breakfast cuts your total daily calories, or not—as a study released last week finds. Yet even if biomedical research can be a fickle guide, we rely on it.
But what if wrong answers aren’t the exception but the rule? More and more scholars who scrutinize health research are now making that claim. It isn’t just an individual study here and there that’s flawed, they charge. Instead, the very framework of medical investigation may be off-kilter, leading time and again to findings that are at best unproved and at worst dangerously wrong. The result is a system that leads patients and physicians astray—spurring often costly regimens that won’t help and may even harm you.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images Gallery: Medical Breakthroughs: The Good and the BadBreakthroughs and Breakdown
It’s a disturbing view, with huge im-plications for doctors, policymakers, and health-conscious consumers. And one of its foremost advocates, Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis, has just ascended to a new, prominent platform after years of crusading against the baseless health and medical claims. As the new chief of Stanford University’s Prevention Research Center, Ioannidis is cementing his role as one of medicine’s top mythbusters. “People are being hurt and even dying” because of false medical claims, he says: not quackery, but errors in medical research.
This is Ioannidis’s moment. As medical costs hamper the economy and impede deficit-reduction efforts, policymakers and businesses are desperate to cut them without sacrificing sick people. One no-brainer solution is to use and pay for only treatments that work. But if Ioannidis is right, most biomedical studies are wrong.
In just the last two months, two pillars of preventive medicine fell. A major study concluded there’s no good evidence that statins (drugs like Lipitor and Crestor) help people with no history of heart disease. The study, by the Cochrane Collaboration, a global consortium of biomedical experts, was based on an evaluation of 14 individual trials with 34,272 patients. Cost of statins: more than $20 billion per year, of which half may be unnecessary. (Pfizer, which makes Lipitor, responds in part that “managing cardiovascular disease risk factors is complicated”). In November a panel of the Institute of Medicine concluded that having a blood test for vitamin D is pointless: almost everyone has enough D for bone health (20 nanograms per milliliter) without taking supplements or calcium pills. Cost of vitamin D: $425 million per year.
Ioannidis, 45, didn’t set out to slay medical myths. A child prodigy (he was calculating decimals at age 3 and wrote a book of poetry at 8), he graduated first in his class from the University of Athens Medical School, did a residency at Harvard, oversaw AIDS clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health in the mid-1990s, and chaired the department of epidemiology at Greece’s University of Ioannina School of Medicine. But at NIH Ioannidis had an epiphany. “Positive” drug trials, which find that a treatment is effective, and “negative” trials, in which a drug fails, take the same amount of time to conduct. “But negative trials took an extra two to four years to be published,” he noticed. “Negative results sit in a file drawer, or the trial keeps going in hopes the results turn positive.” With billions of dollars on the line, companies are loath to declare a new drug ineffective. As a result of the lag in publishing negative studies, patients receive a treatment that is actually ineffective. That made Ioannidis wonder, how many biomedical studies are wrong?
His answer, in a 2005 paper: “the majority.” From clinical trials of new drugs to cutting-edge genetics, biomedical research is riddled with incorrect findings, he argued. Ioannidis deployed an abstruse mathematical argument to prove this, which some critics have questioned. “I do agree that many claims are far more tenuous than is generally appreciated, but to ‘prove’ that most are false, in all areas of medicine, one needs a different statistical model and more empirical evidence than Ioannidis uses,” says biostatistician Steven Goodman of Johns Hopkins, who worries that the most-research-is-wrong claim “could promote an unhealthy skepticism about medical research, which is being used to fuel anti-science fervor.”
Even a cursory glance at medical journals shows that once heralded studies keep falling by the wayside. Two 1993 studies concluded that vitamin E prevents cardiovascular disease; that claim was overturned by more rigorous experiments, in 1996 and 2000. A 1996 study concluding that estrogen therapy reduces older women’s risk of Alzheimer’s was overturned in 2004. Numerous studies concluding that popular antidepressants work by altering brain chemistry have now been contradicted (the drugs help with mild and moderate depression, when they work at all, through a placebo effect), as has research claiming that early cancer detection (through, say, PSA tests) invariably saves lives. The list goes on.
Despite the explosive nature of his charges, Ioannidis has collaborated with some 1,500 other scientists, and Stanford, epitome of the establishment, hired him in August to run the preventive-medicine center. “The core of medicine is getting evidence that guides decision making for patients and doctors,” says Ralph Horwitz, chairman of the department of medicine at Stanford. “John has been the foremost innovative thinker about biomedical evidence, so he was a natural for us.”
Ioannidis’s first targets were shoddy statistics used in early genome studies. Scientists would test one or a few genes at a time for links to virtually every disease they could think of. That just about ensured they would get “hits” by chance alone. When he began marching through the genetics literature, it was like Sherman laying waste to Georgia: most of these candidate genes could not be verified. The claim that variants of the vitamin D–receptor gene explain three quarters of the risk of osteoporosis? Wrong, he and colleagues proved in 2006: the variants have no effect on osteoporosis. That scores of genes identified by the National Human Genome Research Institute can be used to predict cardiovascular disease? No (2009). That six gene variants raise the risk of Parkinson’s disease? No (2010). Yet claims that gene X raises the risk of disease Y contaminate the scientific literature, affecting personal health decisions and sustaining the personal genome-testing industry.
Statistical flukes also plague epidemiology, in which researchers look for links between health and the environment, including how people behave and what they eat. A study might ask whether coffee raises the risk of joint pain, or headaches, or gallbladder disease, or hundreds of other ills. “When you do thousands of tests, statistics says you’ll have some false winners,” says Ioannidis. Drug companies make a mint on such dicey statistics. By testing an approved drug for other uses, they get hits by chance, “and doctors use that as the basis to prescribe the drug for this new use. I think that’s wrong.” Even when a claim is disproved, it hangs around like a deadbeat renter you can’t evict. Years after the claim that vitamin E prevents heart disease had been overturned, half the scientific papers mentioning it cast it as true, Ioannidis found in 2007.
Photo Gallery Medical Breakthroughs: The Good and the BadBreakthroughs and Breakdown
The situation isn’t hopeless. Geneticists have mostly mended their ways, tightening statistical criteria, but other fields still need to clean house, Ioannidis says. Surgical practices, for instance, have not been tested to nearly the extent that medications have. “I wouldn’t be surprised if a large proportion of surgical practice is based on thin air, and [claims for effectiveness] would evaporate if we studied them closely,” Ioannidis says. That would also save billions of dollars. George Lundberg, former editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association, estimates that strictly applying criteria like Ioannidis pushes would save $700 billion to $1 trillion a year in U.S. health-care spending.
Of course, not all conventional health wisdom is wrong. Smoking kills, being morbidly obese or severely underweight makes you more likely to die before your time, processed meat raises the risk of some cancers, and controlling blood pressure reduces the risk of stroke. The upshot for consumers: medical wisdom that has stood the test of time—and large, randomized, controlled trials—is more likely to be right than the latest news flash about a single food or drug.
Special Opinion Report: The plain truth about who owns the Democratic Party
01/25/11 12:11 AM
Editorial Page Editor
Nate Beeler/The Examiner
Examiner Special Report
Who Really Controls the Democratic Party?
It's unlikely that Howard Dean intended to expose one of his party's greatest weaknesses in August 2009 when he explained why Obamacare could not include a tort reform provision that experts said could save up to $400 billion in health care costs.
Speaking at a Northern Virginia town hall meeting, the former Democratic presidential candidate and Democratic National Committee chairman stunned many in the nation's capitol with these unexpected words:
"Here's why tort reform is not in the bill. When you go to pass a really enormous bill like that, the more stuff you put into it, the more enemies you make. And the reason the tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everyone else they were taking on and that is the plain and simple truth."
Dean's admission was especially shocking because for years study after study has shown that doctors are forced to practice defensive medicine -- ordering unneeded tests and procedures in case they were sued by trial lawyers looking for deep pockets and big paydays that come with multimillion-dollar settlements. Tort reforms that put limits on such unrestrained class-action medical lawsuits by trial lawyers would save $40 billion annually, and up to $400 billion over a decade.
But President Obama and his Democratic congressional allies in the 111th Congress dared not alienate the Big Lawyers special interest of class-action trial attorneys. The lawyers and three other special interests - Big Labor union leaders, Big Green environmentalists, and Big Insiders with billions of dollars in personal wealth and foundation grants -- together essentially dictate what Democrats can and cannot support on many key public policy issues.
Call them the Four Horsemen of the coming Democratic apocalypse.
These four groups provide most of the campaign funding and workers, political and policy expertise, legal and regulatory muscle, and strategic communications for the Democratic Party. Consequently, most Democrats are prisoners of a narrow agenda of constantly growing government budgets, regulation and taxing.
This development comes at a time when public opinion surveys show conservatives, who favor less government, outnumber liberals by about two-to-one. In other words, the special interests are taking the Democrats in the opposite direction favored by most Americans.
This Examiner Special Report is about the plain truth of who owns the Democrats, beginning today with Douglas Schoen, former adviser to President Clinton, a clear voice from among a growing band of loyalists who fear the special interests are making it all but impossible for Democrats to attract support from moderates and independents.
Schoen also exlains what President Obama must do to save his party and his presidency. Examiner columnist and political power structures expert Ron Arnold analyzes how the revolving doors swing between special interest and the government. And I examine the present state of the Democratic National Committee.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/special-reports/2011/01/special-report-examiner-special-report-plain-truth-about-who-owns-de#ixzz1BzeFMWSA
Funeral Home Director Sentenced To 8 Month
The Hartford Courant
1:49 p.m. EST, January 25, 2011
An East Hartford funeral home director accused of using a contract with the state medical examiner's office to gain access to the estates of dead people and then stealing their assets was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison.
Kevin Riley, 54, owner of Hartford Trade Services, also must surrender his funeral home license to the state Department of Public Health and repay the state for double-billing two state agencies for transporting bodies.
Riley had himself appointed administrator of the estates of people with no relatives, giving him access to money and property with little or no scrutiny, prosecutors said. Riley and his co-conspirator, Yolande Faulkner, would then steal money, jewelry and paintings and sell some of them through an auction house where Faulkner also was the bookkeeper.
Faulkner, who also was charged with larceny, received a 5-year suspended sentence and must also pay full restitution. She also must perform 100 hours of community service during each of 3 years of probation.Riley must perform 50 hours of community service during each of 3 years of probation in addition to the jail term.
Prosecutor John Malone recommended Riley be sentenced to 7 years and Faulker to 5 years, but Judge David P. Gold said that was too much.
Gold said they took advantage of people at difficult times, but because Faulkner cares for a disabled husband and her elderly mother, putting her in prison would hurt them, Gold said. He also took into account that Faulker served 5 days in jail after her arrest.
Gold said Riley deserved prison time because he had to pay a price for his conduct and to send a message to others.
Riley pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine to first-degree larceny, second-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for crimes involving the taking of money and property from the homes of dead people and for providing an extravagant funeral for a man whose life insurance policy he had cashed in.
He entered straight guilty pleas to charges that he double-billed the state and the families of dead people for whom he made arrangements at a facility in Meriden. State investigators said Riley billed two different state agencies at least $200 per body to transport more than 100 bodies to his East Hartford funeral home.
All told, Riley, through Hartford Trade Services, billed the Department of Social Services and the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner more than $25,000. In many of those cases, Riley also charged the state $1,800 in burial fees — while also charging the person's estate that same amount.
The dead were cremated and the cost of a box in which their remains were placed was included in the cost of service. Riley admitted double-billing the state Department of Social Services and families of the dead for the boxes.
Riley was ordered to pay restitution totaling $62,902. Faulkner was ordered to pay restitution of $13,296.
Riley was arrested in 2009, culminating a three-year investigation by the chief state's attorney's office that started when Meriden Probate Judge Brian Mahon raised questions about how Riley handled the disposal of the body of Julia Drozd, who died in August 2006.
In the Drozd case, Riley was appointed temporary administrator and immediately cleaned out Drozd's house, even though she had a son who was still living in the home. When Mahon notified state probate officials of his concerns, they ordered a review of all cases that Riley had been involved in.
The arrest warrant quotes former employees of Riley as saying that they found "bundles" of money tucked away under recliners and in desk drawers when they cleaned out the Drozd house. One employee estimated that there was between $20,000 and $24,000 found in the home.
In an itemized list handed to the Meriden Probate Court, Riley stated that they found $923 in the Drozd home.
Investigators believe that at least some of the items taken from Drozd's home, as well as from the estates of Anne Drysdale of Stamford and Joseph Chionski of West Hartford, both cases that Riley handled for the medical examiner's office, were sold by Faulkner at Weston's Antiques in Coventry.
Auction house records show that among the property sold from the Drysdale estate were Tiffany and sterling silver items.
After a series of stories in The Courant about Riley and estates that he had administered, the Connecticut Board of Examiners of Embalmers and Funeral Directors conducted a hearing and eventually fined Riley $10,000 while allowing him to keep his license.
When he testified before the board, Riley said he had been unfairly portrayed as a "ghoul" by The Courant.
Obama embraces campaign system he shunned
President Obama became the first candidate ever to opt completely out of public financing, and he largely is credited with putting the final nail in the taxpayer-funded presidential campaign option.
Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times10:34 a.m., Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Though he opted out of the public campaign financing system in 2008 to run the most expensive presidential race in history, President Obama on Tuesday said he opposes House Republicans’ effort to do away with the system altogether.
Mr. Obama became the first candidate ever to opt completely out of the public-financing system, and he largely is credited with putting the final nail in the taxpayer-funded presidential campaign option. But in a statement of policy, Mr. Obama said he wants to see the system fixed, rather than follow Republicans who want to drop the system entirely.
“Its effect would be to expand the power of corporations and special interests in the Nation’s elections; to force many candidates into an endless cycle of fundraising at the expense of engagement with voters on the issues; and to place a premium on access to large donor or special interest support, narrowing the field of otherwise worthy candidates,” the White House said in a statement of policy.
Mr. Obama called for repairing the system, though he didn’t give any specifics on how he would do that.
The public campaign finance system, established after the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, offers to match money candidates raise during their party primaries, and then offers a lump sum of taxpayer money to those candidates who choose to play by its rules and limits during the general election. It also offers some money for Republicans’ and Democrats’ nominating conventions.
Lawmakers’ goal when they created the system was to try to tone down the influence of money in politics and the time candidates spend fundraising, but their efforts repeatedly have been thwarted by loopholes or candidates who shunned the system altogether.
In 2008, Mr. Obama opted out of the system for both the primaries and the general election, and instead raised nearly $750 million on his way to defeating Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee. Mr. McCain opted out of the primary funding but accepted taxpayer funding for the general election.
Mr. Obama, who has proved adept at fundraising both for himself and for his party’s congressional candidates, said he worries about the corrupting influence of such money.
House Republicans have deemed their bill to eliminate the system a part of their pledge to hold a vote every week cutting spending.
Rep. Tom Cole, the Oklahoma Republican who is sponsoring the bill, called the system “obsolete” and said ending it would save $520 million over 10 years. He said Mr. Obama and others have opted out “with no discernible harm to our democracy.”
The public system is funded by taxpayers who voluntarily check off the box on their income tax forms that sends $3 of their tax bill to the Federal Election Commission.
Pot meets pop: Local entrepreneur plans to market line of smartly branded medical-marijuana soft drinks
01/24/2011 01:30:02 AM PST
Clay Butler and his soda pot. (Bill Lovejoy/Sentinel)
SOQUEL -- How strange is the emerging world of medical-marijuana entrepreneurship?
Consider Clay Butler, who may soon be marketing a food product that he's never tasted, and that he would never buy. The product is called Canna Cola, and it's a soft drink that contains THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, aimed at medical marijuana dispensaries.
"I don't do drugs," said the Soquel-based commercial artist. "Never have. I never drank, never smoked. I'm a clean-living guy. I've had two beers in my whole life, and I remember them both too. No marijuana, I've never smoked a cigarette. I take an aspirin when I get a headache. That's it."
Yet, Butler is a partner in a company that is poised to move aggressively in a market that could one day be enormously popular by combining pot with soda pop, two products widely seen as scourges by many Americans -- though those upset by one tend to be approving or indifferent to the other.
"Even though, personally, I'm not interested and I don't think it's right for me," said Butler, "I'm a firm believer that adults have an inalienable right to think, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, decorate, dress any way they choose to do so. It's your life; it's your body."
What really intoxicates Butler is branding, the art of differentiating a product in the marketplace through words and images. And he's designed a line of soda pop that he says will be branded to take advantage of an entirely new market. The line
entincludes the flagship cola drink Canna Cola, the Dr Pepper-like Doc Weed, the lemon-lime Sour Diesel, the grape-flavored Grape Ape and the orange-flavored Orange Kush.
Marijuana sodas do exist in the marketplace. But, said Butler, none of them have the branding savvy of his product.
"You look at all the marijuana products out there, and they are so mom-and-pop, hippie-dippy and rinky-dink," he said. "If someone can put every color on the rainbow on it, they do. If they can pick the most inappropriate and unreadable fonts, they will. And there's marijuana leaves on everything. It's a horrible cliché in the industry."
Butler's epiphany was to market the THC-laced sodas "how Snapple or Coca-Cola or Minute Maid would make a marijuana beverage, if they ever chose to do it."
Thus, he used the marijuana leaf -- it's an unavoidable part of the "brand DNA" of marijuana products, he said -- but he designed a leaf made of bubbles, to suggest soda pop.
The beverage line's dosage of THC will be "somewhere between 35 to 65 milligrams," said Scott Riddell, the founder of Diavolo Brands, which is marketing Canna Cola. He said the levels of THC in his line of soft drinks will be substantially below the levels of many drinks now on the market. He likened his product to a "light beer" alongside high-proof liquors.
"It's got a mild marijuana taste," Riddell said. "But the taste factor is really negligible compared to some competitors with three times the THC. When you get to that level, you really have a heavy aftertaste."
The new sodas will retail for between $10 and $15 per 12-ounce bottle.
The company plans to launch its product in medical marijuana-friendly Colorado in February. California, however, remains a wild card. Plans are tentatively to have it in California dispensaries in the spring.
But, Riddell said, he is concerned about a bill in Congress, the so-called Brownie Law SB 258, which would double the penalties for anyone who produces a product that combines marijuana with "a candy product" or markets it to minors. The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, passed the Senate last summer and is currently in the House. The bill poses a threat to all so-called "medibles," food products containing THC, Riddell said.
Working in the medical marijuana field presents entrepreneurs with unique challenges. The use of marijuana for any purpose is still illegal in federal law, despite various state laws regarding its medicinal use. As a result, the soda cannot be transported across state lines. Canna Cola sold in California would have to be manufactured in California. The company also has to conform to a wide range of county and municipal laws regarding medical marijuana.
And then there's the supplier factor. Butler said that his company has had to inform all of its suppliers -- bottles, caps, the shrink-wrap labels that go on each bottle -- about the nature of their product. Many have balked.
"We tell everyone flat out what the product is. We can't have a supplier finding out after the fact and saying, We can't be involved in this.' Not everyone will take your job," he said. "Of course, if we're selling cigarettes or alcohol or Vicodin or Viagra, it would be fine."
Assuming the Canna Cola line becomes profitable selling to dispensaries, its business profile will change dramatically if marijuana should ever become decriminalized on a federal level. If that were to happen, Butler doubts the food-industry behemoths will dive into the market immediately.
"My suspicion is that, if some day it is decriminalized, and you can get marijuana products in a liquor store or a 7-Eleven, I really don't think it would be the big established food companies that would get involved," Butler said. "I could see them buying out existing brands, which is a lot easier for them anyway. I think the market is going to the early pioneers."
I was arrested for stealing my own car, says Bronx man who is suing NYPD
Tuesday, January 25th 2011, 4:00 AM
Harbus for NewsJamieson Prince's car was taken by NYPD after son crashed it and fled. Prince says cops lost the SUV and he found it and took it back. Then he was arrested for 'theft.'
Harbus for NewsJamieson Prince with papers proving car ownership.
A Bronx man arrested in front of his kids for "stealing" his own car is suing the NYPD for $1 million.
Jamieson Prince, 43, says cops swarmed his 2007 GMC Yukon and cuffed him as he prepared to drive his daughters to school on Nov. 11 - even though he had papers proving ownership.
"I told them it was a mixup and proved to them I owned the car, but they wouldn't listen," Prince, a Norwood resident, told the Daily News.
"My little girls saw me arrested over nothing. It was so painful and humiliating."
Prince explained to the officers that his 23-year-old son had borrowed the SUV in July and fled from a crash in Harlem - leading to the son's arrest.
Cops say he hit a pedestrian and they seized the Yukon as part of that investigation.
When the elder Prince went to the 28th Precinct stationhouse to retrieve his SUV, police couldn't find it, according to court papers.
"They had absolutely no idea what happened to it," said Prince, an MTA track worker. "It had disappeared."
An NYPD spokesman confirmed Monday that the Yukon was stolen around 2 a.m. on July 7.
Four months later, Prince says, he found the Yukon, parked three blocks from the stationhouse.
He drove off, thinking everything was okay, but cops rolled up to his home and arrested him a week later - accusing him of removing police property without permission.
"How can the NYPD just confiscate property, lose it, then arrest you for possessing it?" said Prince. "It's totally wrong. I want an apology."
Prince's lawyer Neil Wollerstein said a rogue police employee may have improperly used the SUV, leading to its disappearance.
"You can't lose a 5-ton truck," said Wollerstein. "Either they're completely incompetent or someone was up to no good."
The charges against Prince were dropped Jan. 12.
"I just want my daughters to know their father didn't break the law," he said.
"This turned my world upside down."
President Obama, Sarah Palin team up to take on comic book legend Archie
Monday, January 24th 2011, 3:05 PM
Writer Alex Simmons and artist Dan Parent bring President Obama and Sarah Palin to Archie's Riverdale...
...in issue #617 of Archie, on sale this Wednesday.
If only the rest of the country was more like Riverdale .
At least the fictional version of the Bronx suburban neighborhood populated by Archie and his pals -- where President Obama and Sarah Palin can find common ground.
In the unlikely storyline of Archie No. 617, in stores this Wednesday, the rivals bridge their partisan divide and descend on Riverdale High School to straighten out the mess left behind when Archie and Reggie each claim one of the politician's support in a student body election.
"It really gets back to the idea of 'can't we all get along,' " says Archie Comics co-CEO Jon Goldwater. "Both [Palin and Obama] want what's best for America, so we came up as an idea of how we put the President and the woman who I consider the de facto head of the Republican Party in a story set in Riverdale, which is an inclusive place where everybody gets along."
Cynics, though, wonder if the company has ulterior motives for planting two of the most famous figures in the world on the cover of a comic book.
"It's going to be interpreted as both [a sales stunt and a political statement], says Robert Conte, owner of Manhattan Comics in midtown. "You're going to have the natural curiousity-seekers wondering why Obama and Palin are in the same comic, but it's also a way for young readers to get to know a little more about politics."
Conte says comic book publishers elect to put Obama and Palin on covers all the time - especially since as public figures they're owed no royalties.
In recent months, issues of "Steam Punk Sarah" - a parody with Sarah Palin as a terminator -- and "President Evil" - starring Obama in a Resident Evil sendup, have been big sellers at Conte's shop.
"It's very very tricky," says Goldwater of the idea of introducing political figures into a comic book for kids. "But the fundamental belief I have is that both people want what's best for this country, so that was the genesis of this storyline."
January 24, 2011, 1:27 pm
Court Says Rahm Emanuel Not Eligible to Run for Mayor
CHICAGO — An Illinois appeals court panel has ruled that Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, does not qualify to run for mayor of Chicago in next month’s election.
The ruling, which was announced on Monday, comes as a significant and unexpected setback for Mr. Emanuel, who has been a front-runner both in polls and in fundraising in the race to replace Richard M. Daley, the city’s longest serving mayor, who will retire this spring.
The question of Mr. Emanuel’s residency — and whether he had lived in Chicago long enough to appear on the city’s ballot — had been a matter of debate since Mr. Emanuel departed the White House last fall to run for mayor.
Mr. Emanuel contended that he had always maintained a home in Chicago, the city where he was born, and that his time at the White House was a matter of national service. But Mr. Emanuel’s opponents said that Mr. Emanuel did not meet the state’s residency requirements to run for a mayoralty, one of which is to have lived in the city for a year before the day of the election. His return to Chicago in the fall, they argued, was too late to qualify for a Feb. 22 ballot.
The Chicago Board of Elections concurred with Mr. Emanuel, as had a Cook County trial judge. But a three-judge panel of the Illinois Appellate Court ruled against him, 2 to 1. With time running short and ballot arrangements already being finalized, the issues seemed certain to go to the state Supreme Court.
Oprah reveals she has half-sister
Oprah Winfrey said she now regrets calling her show Change Your Life TV.
Nina Metz Tribune
9:30 a.m. CST, January 24, 2011
Patricia, whose last name was not given, is nearly 10 years younger than Winfrey, who learned of the news just before Thanksgiving, saying it “literally shook me to my core.”
An emotional Winfrey explained that she broke the news on her talk show because “there is no way, with how the media works today, that a story like this wouldn’t get out in the press and wouldn’t be exploited. I didn’t want that to happen, because it’s true. If it wasn’t true, I wouldn’t care what the media says. But it is true. And I wanted you to hear it from me first.”
Oprah spent much of the Monday program detailing how her half-sister realized she was related to Winfrey and the long process of how they finally made contact and the reaction of her mother and sister when they met in Milwaukee, which was recorded on home video. Oprah thanked her sister for not going to the media with this news.
Winfrey was born to unwed teens and was raised at various times by her grandmother, mother and father and stepmother in Mississippi, Wisconsin and Tennessee.She got pregnant at age 14, but her baby died a short time later. Earlier this week on Piers Morgan's CNN show, she said she wouldn't be where she is today if she had had the baby.
Tribune wires contributed to this report
LINK TO PHOTO OF OPRAH'S SISTER:
Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie in Your Bed Can Kill You
Jan 20, 2011 – 6:55 AM
Senior Public Health Correspondent Medical researchers have long shown that contact with pets can often help both the physically and mentally ill. But now, veterinary scientists say sleeping with your pets increases the chances of contracting everything from parasites to the plague.
What's a pet owner to do?
Most U.S. households have pets, and more than half of those cats and dogs are allowed to sleep in their owner's beds, Drs. Bruno Chomel, a professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, and Ben Sun, chief veterinarian for California's Department of Health, say in a study to be published in next month's issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Andrew Schneider for AOL NewsA new study says it's best to let your dogs and cats sleep in their own beds."We wanted to raise the attention of people, as sleeping with a pet is becoming quite common, and there are risks associated with it, even if it is not very frequent," Chomel told AOL News. "But when it occurs, especially in children or immunocompromised people, it can be very severe."
The authors, both experts in zoonoses, which are diseases or infections transmitted from animals to humans, reported that "the risk for transmission of zoonotic agents by close contact between pets and their owners through bed sharing, kissing or licking is real and has even been documented for life-threatening infections such as plague, internal parasites" and other serious diseases.
How many of us admit to others that we sleep with our furry friends? Many of us do, according to the study.
Among dog owners, 53 percent consider their dog to be a member of the family, and 56 percent of those dog owners admit they sleep with their dog next to them, the researchers reported.
We're not just talking about teacup yorkies and chihuahuas here. Yes, the study says, most are small dogs, but 41 percent are medium-sized, and one out of three are large. Also, consider this fact, which the authors attribute to the American Kennel Club: Women were more likely than men to allow their dogs to share their beds.
As strange as it may be to canine lovers, more people have cats than dogs, and these felines also carry disease. This study and several others show that disease from cats is far more prevalent, and often more serious.
The number of cats snuggling up with their owner is far greater, which may explain the larger number of people acquiring feline-spawned diseases, Chomel explained.
Take cat scratch disease, for example. The bacterial infection, caused by Bartonella henselae, comes from infected fleas and flea feces and is transmitted to humans, often simply by a cat strolling across a food preparation area that isn't disinfected before food is placed on it. Mostly, the victims of cat scratch disease are children, infected by the scratch, lick or bite of a cat. The pathogen can cause swelling of the lymph nodes and sometime lethal damage to the liver, kidney and spleen of humans.
The CDC estimates that more than 20,000 people can contract cat scratch disease a year, but the federal disease agency could offer no information on the number of deaths.
Risks and Benefits
The CDC reports that pets may lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and decrease feelings of loneliness, while increasing opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization.
Medical studies going back at least 30 years have documented the clinical value of pets to cardiac patients, those hospitalized with mental illnesses and the elderly.
Sharing our resting hours with our pets may be a source of psychological comfort, but because pets can bring a wide range of zoonotic pathogens into our environment, sharing is also associated with risks, the authors of the current study reported.
Kissing pets can also transmit zoonoses. A Japanese woman contacted meningitis after kissing her pet's face.
But disease can easily be transmitted by your pet kissing you. The study cited cases where a woman died of septic shock and renal failure after her cat, with whom she slept, licked open sores on her feet and toes. In another case, a 44-year-old man died of infection after his German shepherd puppy licked open abrasions on his hands.
Your pet's food can also be a source of disease. A study published last August in the journal Pediatrics tracked an outbreak of salmonella in 79 people between 2006 and 2008 that was caused by contaminated meat in dry cat and dog food.
Half of the victims were children, who CDC investigators said "might also have played with the pet food and then put their hands -- or the food itself -- in their mouths."
The disease also could have come from pets who rolled or played in their feces, where salmonella can stay alive for up to 12 weeks.
Where do our pets they pick up these diseases? Fleas are a likely starting point. And most of your pets will eat the droppings of other animals.
Take a dog to any beach, park or trail through the woods almost anywhere and watch the speed at which it will find something really foul-smelling and dead in which to roll.
Cats usually do their own killing for food and fun. And just think about the infectious bugs that laced the dead and dying rodents, birds and other critters they eat or try to bring into the home.
What Can Be Done?
The two senior veterinarians say several things can be done to reduce the threat of disease. The main one is for owners to ensure the health of their pets by seeking regular professional checkups and care. Other points include:
The risk of getting sick from being close with your pets is real, but most of the diseases they pass on to humans can be identified and eliminated by regular veterinary care.
Meanwhile, start practicing saying "Get off the bed. I mean it this time."
Jack LaLanne dies at 96; spiritual father of U.S. fitness movement
The ever-buoyant LaLanne opened what's believed to be the country's first health club in Oakland in 1936. In the '50s he started a TV exercise show geared toward housewives, and he sold a popular line of exercise equipment, supplements and health food.
Jack LaLanne saw himself as a combination cheerleader, rescuer and savior. And if his enthusiasm had a religious fervor to it, well, so be it. “Well it is. It is a religion with me,” he told What Is Enlightenment, a magazine dedicated to awareness, in 1999. “It's a way of life." (Associated Press / January 24, 2011)
Special to The Times
January 23, 2011, 10:18 p.m.
Wal-Mart vs. Civil War site heads to court
** FILE ** An employee collects carts outside a Walmart Supercenter in Kilmarnock, Va., on January 13, 2009. (The Washington Times)
Steve Szkotak-Associated Press 1:15 p.m.,
Sunday, January 23, 2011
** FILE ** A news conference takes place in May 2009 regarding the Wilderness Battlefield in Orange County, Va., where Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to build a supercenter nearby.
RICHMOND (AP) — Nearly 150 years after Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant fought in Northern Virginia, a conflict over the battlefield is taking shape in a courtroom.
The dispute involves whether a Walmart should be built near the Civil War site, and the case pits preservationists and some residents of a rural Northern Virginia town against the world's largest retailer and local officials who approved the Walmart Supercenter.
Both sides are scheduled to make arguments before a judge Tuesday.
The proposed Walmart is located near the site of the Battle of the Wilderness, which is viewed by historians as a critical turning point in the war. An estimated 185,000 Union and Confederate troops fought over three days in 1864, and 30,000 were killed, injured or went missing. The war ended 11 months later.
The 143,000-square-foot space planned by the Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. would be outside the limits of the protected national park where the core battlefield is located. The company has stressed the store would be within an area already dotted with retail locations and in an area zoned for commercial use.
** FILE ** Academy Award-winning actor Robert Duvall, who greets Zann Miner, president of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield in May 2009, says he is against the proposed Walmart Supercenter development because of its proximity to the Civil War battlefield. (AP Photo)
The Orange County Board of Supervisors in August 2009 approved the special-use permit Wal-Mart needed to build, but the National Trust for Historic Preservation and residents who live within three miles of the site challenged the board's decision.
They argued, in part, that supervisors ignored or rejected the help of historians and other preservation experts when they approved the store's construction in Locust Grove, about 1 mile from the national park entrance.
Hundreds of people, including Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson, filmmaker Ken Burns and actor Robert Duvall, have appealed to Wal-Mart to walk away and find another place to build in the county of less than 35,000 people.
Mr. McPherson is expected to testify that the store's site and nearby acres were blood-soaked ground and a Union "nerve center" in the battle. Grant's headquarters and his senior leaders were encamped near the site of the proposed store, and Union casualties were treated there or in an area destined to be the store's parking lot, Mr. McPherson wrote in a summary of his testimony.
"Among other things, thousands of wounded and dying soldiers occupied the then open fields that included the Walmart site, which is where many of the Union Army hospital tents were located during the battle," Mr. McPherson wrote.
An attorney representing Orange County argued the board and other officials acted properly and heard the opinions of hundreds of people before approving the store.
"There is no indication that any significant historical event occurred on this land," Sharon E. Pandak wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press. "No state or federal law precludes development of the site."
Robert D. Rosenbaum, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he plans to call descendants of Union and Confederate soldiers to testify. The dispute resonates beyond Virginia, where most of the Civil War was fought, he said.
"As we approach the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, this case is a watershed that will demonstrate whether we as a society are really interested in protecting our national heritage," he said.
In Orange County, many residents and community leaders have welcomed the store. It would create 300 jobs and tax revenue, and there would be a convenient big-box store in the county.
A spokesman for Wal-Mart said the retailer is hopeful the court proceedings will clear the way for construction.
"We believe the board made a careful and thoughtful decision that balances historic preservation concerns with the need for economic development," spokesman Bill Wertz said.
If Sarah Palin decides to run for president, she could quickly find that it’s not Arizona, but New Hampshire that poses the bigger threat to her candidacy.
That’s because in all of her travels since the 2008 election – during the midterm campaign and across two expansive book tours – the former Alaska governor has not once set foot in the first-in-the-nation primary state. And residents have noticed.
For all the attention to Palin’s large-scale image problems, from her much-criticized response to the recent shootings in Tucson, Ariz., to an unsteady media strategy, to sliding poll numbers, her seeming disconnect with the Granite State could represent an equally serious hole in any path to the GOP presidential nomination.
An early sign of Palin’s viability in New Hampshire could come this weekend when the 493 members of the Republican State Committee vote in a straw poll for the GOP’s presidential nomination. Several New Hampshire GOP politicos forecast that Palin’s absence from the state will catch up with her, with one predicting she would have “nothing going” and another saying they “wouldn’t be surprised if she is last.”
“In a state that puts a premium on personal contact, the question on Saturday will be whether — or how badly — that’s hurting her among the party faithful,” said one New Hampshire Republican who spoke candidly about the straw poll on the condition of anonymity. “Political celebrities tend to falter here — just ask George W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani.”
But if Palin manages to post a respectable showing in the straw poll, it will almost certainly be a triumph of political celebrity over old-fashioned retail politics since Palin campaigned in a series of competitive races last year but bypassed those in New Hampshire.
Palin also visited more than 30 states to promote her books, but New Hampshire was not among them. Adding insult to injury, Palin has lavished attention on Iowa and South Carolina, two other early presidential states that compete for influence over the nominating process.
Palin visited both states to promote her books. Last May, she traveled to South Carolina to campaign for Gov. Nikki Haley in the Republican primary. In September, she headlined a major fundraising dinner in Des Moines for the Iowa Republican Party.
That’s a surprising snub for New Hampshire, where residents take immense pride in the role they play in screening national candidates. And it’s left New Hampshire Republicans wondering how Palin could have overlooked such an influential stop in presidential politics.
“People are talking about it,” said former Republican Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne, who lost to Sen. Kelly Ayotte — whom Palin endorsed — in a September primary. “Among the more widely speculated potential candidates, Gov. Palin is one of them who has not at all been in New Hampshire.”
Palin’s aides did not return requests for comment. However, her absence raises something of a worst-case scenario for New Hampshire Republicans: Palin could decide to run for president but look at the primary map and conclude that her prospects in more socially conservative Iowa and South Carolina are good enough that she can give New Hampshire only cursory treatment.
Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, sees New Hampshire’s omission from Palin’s schedule as a deliberate political choice and argues: “This isn’t by accident. … They’ve made a decision not to come to New Hampshire, and people have noticed.”
“Palin is almost being mocked, openly, by a lot of observers for the extent to which she has ignored New Hampshire and pretends it doesn’t exist,” Cullen said. “People crack jokes about it — political reporters, elected officials. Not just staff, not just activists.”
And Republican strategist Mike Dennehy, who advised Sen. John McCain in the state, said if Palin “doesn’t send out stronger signals in the state of New Hampshire soon — and by soon, I mean in the next couple months — I would say that’s an indication she doesn’t have an interest for running for president, or running for president in New Hampshire. I would say by April 1.”
While Palin hasn’t been a physical presence in New Hampshire, she left a mark on at least one race in 2010 when she backed Ayotte for retiring GOP Sen. Judd Gregg’s seat.
One Republican operative credited Palin with Ayotte’s narrow primary win over Lamontagne, crowing in September: “There was a time when the Union Leader [newspaper, which endorsed Lamontagne] played kingmaker here. But in this race, Sarah Palin was the queenmaker.”
Yet Palin’s endorsement was delivered via Facebook, and she never actually made a trip to campaign for Ayotte. The former state attorney general defeated Lamontagne’s underfunded campaign by less than a percentage point.
“New Hampshire is a grass-roots state,” Lamontagne said. “To the extent that Gov. Palin got involved in our primary, endorsed my opponent, she did it through social media, and it doesn’t really have the same impact that it would in another state.”
Many rank-and-file Republican voters appear to have a more patient attitude toward the former Alaska governor than the frustrated political class.
A Magellan Strategies automated poll taken earlier this month for the website NH Journal showed Palin in second place with 16 percent in New Hampshire, behind the very familiar Mitt Romney’s 39 percent. Nearly three-fifths of Republicans — 59 percent — had a favorable view of Palin, compared with 31 percent who had an unfavorable view. Half of independents, who can vote in New Hampshire GOP primaries, also viewed her favorably.
So if Palin does decide to run for president, there’s a big slice of the primary electorate that seems willing to give her a look.
One prominent conservative who might fall into that category is Union Leader publisher Joseph McQuaid, who said it’s “too early, other than for the insider, navel-gazing, thumb-sucking crowd” to read into Palin’s travel.
“If she wants to win, I think she’ll come to New Hampshire at some point,” McQuaid said. “If somebody was seriously contesting for the nomination and didn’t come to the first primary state, there would be grave questions about that person’s ability to win a general election.”
Given Palin’s star power, however, some fret that even if she doesn’t skip the state, she could put in a minimal amount of time and still clock a respectable finish that wouldn’t affect her odds at the nomination.
Indeed, McQuaid noted that in the early years of the New Hampshire primary, several widely known candidates succeeded without actually appearing in the state: Dwight Eisenhower won the first New Hampshire primary in 1952 with the help of New Hampshire’s governor, and later White House chief of staff Sherman Adams.
A dozen years later, former Massachusetts Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge won the primary as a write-in candidate while serving as ambassador to Vietnam.
New Hampshire operative Dave Carney suggested that just as many 2010 primaries unfolded differently than in previous years — with activist candidates toppling incumbent senators and congressmen — so might the 2012 presidential contest defy expectations about the way things are supposed to work in the early states.
“We love people to come to New Hampshire all the time. We love the attention. We love the support,” he said. “Are there other ways to win New Hampshire? There may be a dozen ways to win New Hampshire, but people haven’t demonstrated them yet.”
For the most part, however, New Hampshire’s primary has been a grueling, diner-by-diner, boots-on-the-ground contest that’s punished the more aloof class of candidates — such as then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who skipped an early candidate forum at Dartmouth and lost the primary in 2000 to the seemingly omnipresent New Hampshire campaigner John McCain.
“It’s really been more the exception than the rule, that somebody who didn’t spend time here is going to get the nomination,” McQuaid said. But “a high-profile person like Gov. Palin doesn’t need to come here that early.”
He added: “I’d love to meet the lady.”
First in nation, last with Palin
Officials fear bath salts are growing drug problem
SHELIA BYRD, The Associated Press
Posted: 01/22/2011 12:19:18 PM PST
Updated: 01/22/2011 12:33:51 PM PST
In this Jan. 18, 2011 photo, Itawamba County inmate Neil Brown describes at the jail in Fulton, Miss., hallucinations he experienced after ingesting a bath salt powder that is being sold at convenience stores and over the Internet. The product, which can be legally purchased, contains stimulants which authorities claim can cause hallucinations, paranoia and suicidal thoughts and are now among the newest substances law enforcement agents are having to deal with in the streets. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
FULTON, Miss. - When Neil Brown got high on bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders with such innocuous-sounding names as Ivory Snow, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky.
Some say the effects of the powders are as powerful as abusing methamphetamine. Increasingly, law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the bath salts with complex chemical names are an emerging menace in several U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale.
From the Deep South to California, emergency calls are being reported over exposure to the stimulants the powders often contain: mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV.
Sold under such names as Ivory Wave, Bliss, White Lightning and Hurricane Charlie, the chemicals can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts, authorities say. The chemicals are in bath salts and even plant foods that are sold legally at convenience stores and on the Internet. However, they aren't necessarily being used for the purposes on the label.
Mississippi lawmakers this week began considering a proposal to ban the sale of the powders, and a similar step is being sought in Kentucky. In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state's poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010involving exposure to the chemicals.
In Brown's case, he said he had tried every drug from heroin to crack and was so shaken by terrifying hallucinations that he wrote one Mississippi paper urging people to stay away from the bath salts.
"I couldn't tell you why I did it," Brown said, pointing to his scars. "The psychological effects are still there."
While Brown survived, sheriff's authorities in one Mississippi county say they believe one woman overdosed on bath salts there. In southern Louisiana, the family of a 21-year-old man says he cut his throat and ended his life with a gunshot. Authorities are investigating whether a man charged with capital murder in the December death of a Tippah County, Miss., sheriff's deputy was under the influence of the bath salts.
The stimulants aren't regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, but are facing federal scrutiny. Law officers say some of the substances are being shipped from Europe, but origins are still unclear.
Gary Boggs, an executive assistant at the DEA, said there's a lengthy process to restrict these types of designer chemicals, including reviewing the abuse data. But it's a process that can take years.
Dr. Mark Ryan, director of Louisiana's poison control center, said he thinks state bans on the chemicals can be effective. He said calls about the salts have dropped sharply since Louisiana banned their sale in January.
Ryan said cathinone, the parent substance of the drugs, comes from a plant grown in Africa and is regulated. He said MDPV and mephedrone are made in a lab, and they aren't regulated because they're not marketed for human consumption. The stimulants affect neurotransmitters in the brain, he said.
"It causes intense cravings for it. They'll binge on it three or four days before they show up in an ER. Even though it's a horrible trip, they want to do it again and again," Ryan said.
Ryan said at least 25 states have received calls about exposure, including Nevada and California. He said Louisiana leads with the greatest number of cases at 165, or 48 percent of the U.S. total, followed by Florida with at least 38 calls to its poison center.
Dr. Rick Gellar, medical director for the California Poison Control System, said the first call about the substances came in Oct. 5, and a handful of calls have followed since. But he warned: "The only way this won't become a problem in California is if federal regulatory agencies get ahead of the curve. This is a brand new thing."
In the Midwest, the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center received at least 12 calls in the first two weeks of January about teenagers and young adults abusing such chemicals, said Julie Weber, the center's director. The center received eight calls about the powders all of last year.
Dr. Richard Sanders, a general practitioner working in Covington, La., said his son, Dickie, snorted some of the bath salts and endured three days of intermittent delirium. Dickie Sanders missed major arteries when he cut his throat. As he continued to have visions, his physician father tried to calm him. But the elder Sanders said that as he slept, his son went into another room and shot himself.
"If you could see the contortions on his face. It just made him crazy," said Sanders. He added that the coroner's office confirmed the chemicals were detected in his son's blood and urine.
Sanders warns the bath salts are far more dangerous than some of their names imply.
"I think everybody is taking this extremely lightly. As much as we outlawed it in Louisiana, all these kids cross over to Mississippi and buy whatever they want," he said.
A small packet of the chemicals typically costs as little as $20.
In northern Mississippi's Itawamba County, Sheriff Chris Dickinson said his office has handled about 30 encounters with bath salt users in the past two months alone. He said the problem grew last year in his rural area after a Mississippi law began restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making methamphetamine.
Dickinson said most of the bath salt users there have been meth addicts and can be dangerous when using them.
"We had a deputy injured a week ago. They were fighting with a guy who thought they were two devils. That's what makes this drug so dangerous," he said.
But Dickinson said the chemicals are legal for now, leaving him no choice but to slap users with a charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.
Kentucky state lawmaker John Tilley said he's moving to block the drug's sale there, preparing a bill for consideration when his legislature convenes shortly. Angry that the powders can be bought legally, he said: "If my 12-year-old can go in a store and buy it, that concerns me."
Voodoo economics? Tote up the jobs from Obama's stimulus
01/22/11 8:05 PM
Gerry Broome/AP By January 2011, the stimulus bill was supposed to have lowered the unemployment rate to 7 percent. The current unemployment rate actually stands at 9.4 percent.Democrats have lambasted Republicans for years for believing in "Voodoo economics."
Well, the evidence is mounting that economic superstition is alive and well in the nation's political circles, though it has nothing to do with a fondness for tax cuts. It's instead the crazy belief that the government can spend its way to prosperity for the rest of us. Underscoring this conclusion, the Ways and Means Committee in the new GOP-majority House released a report titled "It's Official: On Unemployment and Jobs, Democrats' 2009 Stimulus Was a Huge Failure."
The Ways and Means report provides a number of striking reminders about the predictions the White House made in January 2009 while urging the passage of their $814 billion Keynesian spending bill. By January 2011, the stimulus bill was supposed to have lowered the unemployment rate to 7 percent. It now stands at 9.4 percent, and the report notes that "the unemployment rate would be 11.3 percent if it included all the 'invisible unemployed' -- American workers who have simply given up looking for work." The report also claimed that the stimulus would create 3.7 million jobs by now, for a total of 137.6 million jobs in the American economy. Currently, there are 130.7 million jobs. Since passage of the stimulus, 47 of the 50 states have lost jobs; overall, the private sector has seen 1.8 million jobs disappear.
Note as well that unemployment is slightly above what the White House predicted it would be if the Obama stimulus program was not passed as emergency legislation. Any honest assessment of the stimulus has to consider the possibility that flawed economics, kickbacks to unions and other Democratic special interests, corruption and an inefficient bureaucracy simply swallowed all the jobs for which those billions were supposed to pay. In fact, job creation exceeded the White House's expectations in only one area: The District of Columbia created almost twice as many jobs as the White House anticipated. In other words, thanks to the stimulus, the only sector creating new jobs is the federal government.
In response to the failure of Obamanomics, the Ways and Means Committee report offers four solutions to get the economy going again: Streamline the tax code, pass pending free-trade agreements so American companies can easily sell goods overseas, repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that actually lower insurance costs, and get spending under control so the national debt doesn't threaten the economy. Democrats may call this voodoo economics, but to most Americans it probably sounds like a popular and common-sense plan to get the economy going again. After two years of Obamanomics, almost anything would be a welcome change.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/2011/01/voodoo-economics-tote-jobs-obamas-stimulus#ixzz1BlYcZxLp
New Zealand Woman Partially Paralyzed by Hickey
January 21, 2011
A New Zealand woman was temporarily partially paralyzed by a hickey on her neck from her amorous partner, AFP reported Friday.
The 44-year-old woman went to the emergency department of Middlemore Hospital in Auckland last year after experiencing loss of movement in her left arm while watching television, doctors reported in the New Zealand Medical Journal.
Doctors concluded the woman had suffered a mild stroke but were puzzled about its cause until they found a small vertical bruise on her neck near a major artery, a hickey, she received a few days earlier.
"Because it was a love bite there would be a lot of suction," one of the doctors who treated her, Teddy Wu, told the Christchurch Press.
"Because of the physical trauma it had made a bit of bruising inside the vessel. There was a clot in the artery underneath where the hickey was."
Wu said the clot dislodged and traveled to the woman's heart, where it caused a minor stroke that led to the loss of movement.
"We looked around the medical literature and that example of having a love bite causing something like that hasn't been described before," he said.
The medic said the woman recovered after being treated with an anti-coagulant.
First posted: 1/20/11 12:00 AM EST
SARAH PALIN's husband TODD is caught up in a sleazy sex scandal, The ENQUIRER has learned!
Political bloggers are digging into incredible claims that the "First Dude" - father of the couple's five children - cheated on his wife with a female massage therapist who was busted for prostitution!
The scandal not only has the potential to sabotage Palin's possible 2012 White House bid, but also threatens to destroy her marriage, sources say.
While the story heats up on the internet, The ENQUIRER has uncovered official documents confirming the woman's arrest, and learned police have confiscated physical evidence that could tie Todd to an alleged extramarital affair.
We have also uncovered documents that show the woman - identified by bloggers as Shailey Tripp - contributed free massages to an anonymous person working for Sarah's campaign for governor of Alaska.
While representatives for Todd Palin vehemently deny he cheated on his wife, allegations of his extramarital affair surfaced on Jan. 4 when an anonymous tipster sent out messages to news outlets making the allegation using the e-mail address [email protected]
"My sources reveal that a massage therapist and computer technologist, SHAILEY TRIPP, had an affair with Todd Palin that lead (sic) to her arrest March of 2010," claimed the anonymous e-mail.
"According to the tenants in the building of her offices, they saw Todd come and go often and heard noises that sounded like someone was having sex. It was the same tenants who called the police on her."
An ENQUIRER investigation has confirmed Tripp, 36, was arrested on March 4, 2010 in Anchorage and charged with maintaining a house of prostitution.
Tripp pleaded no contest on June 13, 2010 with sentencing set for June 15, 2011. She agreed to complete 80 hours of volunteer service, not post advertisements on CraigsList and pay a fine of $500. If she meets with these conditions, Tripp can withdraw her plea at the sentencing hearing and the case will be dismissed, records show.
UPDATE 4.30 pm est 1/21/11: Since the first hours of this breaking story ignited a firestorm of controversy key mainstream media The New York Daily News, Vanity Fair magazine, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post and Forbes Magazine, among others, have cited The ENQUIRER's bombshell investigation into the Palin cheating scandal.
In fact, Forbes suggested that "in the Palin-built political arena of 2011, Todd Palin’s affair might be the just the ticket Sarah needs to be the first single mother in the Oval Office."
Interestingly enough, The NY Daily News reported that when the Palins were confronted with cheating allegations in both 2008 and 2009, the then-Alaskan Governor was quick to issue a denial.
The News reported that neither Todd nor Sarah Palin have yet to comment on The ENQUIRER's report.
Rudest city in the USA? Hint: It's not what you're probably thinking
Los Angeles not only has some of the nation's worst traffic, it has the rudest people, according to a magazine poll.
Kevork Djansezian, Getty ImagesIn yet another one of those utterly suspect readers' polls that never fail to grab attention, Travel + Leisure magazine has anointed (drumroll, please) Los Angeles as America's Rudest City, beating out everybody's favorite in-your-face burg, New York.
The dubious honor comes as part of the magazine's annual America's Favorite Cities survey, in which it asks readers to rate 35 cities on 54 mostly subjective qualities. (Last fall, the magazine enlightened its readers about where to find America's Most and Least Attractive Locals. Memphis got hit with the ugly stick. Charleston, S.C., ranked purtiest.)
In the perceived rudeness realm, it's not surprising that congested cities in the nation's northeast corridor rank high on the list. New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and Baltimore landed in the top seven.
Following are the top 20 in descending order.
Weigh in below on whether you think T+L readers got it right.
17. Santa Fe
14. San Francisco
10. Dallas/Fort Worth
8. Las Vegas
2. New York City
1. Los Angeles
Jan 21 2011 12:59PM
LINK TO STORY:
MTV's new show 'Skins' under fire for potential child porn violation: report
NEWSCORE Last Updated: 7:44 PM, January 20, 2011
In the wake of a mounting scandal over a possible child pornography investigation of MTV as a result of the racy new show “Skins,” Taco Bell has opted to pull all of its advertising from the program, FOXNews.com reported Thursday.
Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch told The Hollywood Reporter: “We advertise on a variety of MTV programs that reach our core demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds, which included the premiere episode of ‘Skins.’
"Upon further review, we’ve decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming," he added.
After the premiere of the racy teen TV show "Skins," the Parents Television Council (PTC) is calling for a federal investigation into whether the MTV series violates child pornography laws, TMZ reported Thursday.
On Thursday, media watchdog group The Parents Television Council called on lawmakers and law enforcement officials to open an investigation regarding possible child pornography on the cable network’s newest series.
The show features several teenage actors engaging in “foul language, illegal drug use, illegal activity as well as thoroughly pervasive sexual content,” PTC President Tim Winter said in a letter sent to the chairmen of the US Senate and House Judiciary Committees and the Department of Justice.
The news of Taco Bell’s decision follows a series of panicked meetings that the New York Times claimed took place at MTV headquarters Tuesday, where executives even went so far as to discuss criminal charges.
In a statement released Thursday, MTV defended the show, which they claim addresses “real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way.”
"We review all of our shows and work with all of our producers on an ongoing basis to ensure our shows comply with laws and community standards," the statement read.
"We are confident that the episodes of 'Skins' will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers. We also have taken numerous steps to alert viewers to the strong subject matter so that they can choose for themselves whether it is appropriate.?"
The controversial British import series “Skins” made its debut on the cable network last Monday, causing uproar for its frank depiction of teenage sex and drug use.
But unlike MTV’s envelope-pushing shows of the past, “Skins” features underage actors engaged in sexual situations. The youngest star of the show is 15.
Nielsen ratings for the premiere, which was heavily promoted during MTV’s hit “Jersey Shore,” show that it drew 1.2 million people younger than 18, or more than a third of its total audience.
“Putting aside whether it is socially acceptable, I certainly believe that MTV is unnecessarily tempting fate,” Ian Friedman, an attorney specializing in computer-based sex offenses, told FOXNews.com.
“It is not clear as to whether MTV is in violation of federal or state child pornography laws, but that does not mean that they won’t end up defending themselves somewhere in the United States," Friedman said, noting that attitudes toward nudity and sexuality are far more lax in the show's native England.
Keith Olbermann leaving MSNBC, ends 'Countdown'
AP Television Writer
40 mins ago
NEW YORK – MSNBC host Keith Olbermann announced Friday that he is leaving the network and has taped his last "Countdown" show.
MSNBC issued a statement that it had ended its contract with the controversial host, with no further explanation. Olbermann hosted the network's most popular show, but his combative liberal opinions often made him a target of critics.
Olbermann did not explain why he was leaving.
"MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors," the network said.
A spokesman said Phil Griffin, MSNBC's president, would not comment on Olbermann's exit. Spokesman Jeremy Gaines would say only that the acquistion of NBC Universal by Comcast, which received regulatory approval this week, had nothing to do with the decision.
Olbermann was suspended without pay from the network for two days in November for donating to three Democratic candidates, which violated NBC News' policy on political donations. Olbermann complained that he was being punished for mistakenly violating an inconsistently applied rule that he had known nothing about.
The host apologized to fans — but not to the network.
Olbermann, before leaving the show with a final signature toss of his script toward the camera, thanked his audience for sticking with him and read a James Thurber poem.
"This may be the only television program where the host was much more in awe of the audience than vice versa," he said.
He thanked a series of people, including the late Tim Russert, but pointedly not Griffin or NBC News President Steve Capus.
Olbermann's prime-time show is the network's top-rated. His evolution from a humorous look at the day's headlines into a pointedly liberal show in the last half of George W. Bush's administration led MSNBC to largely shift the tone of the network in his direction, with the hirings or Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell in primetime.
Oakland 2nd Graders Reportedly Engage In Sex Acts, Teacher Suspended
January 21, 2011 12:19 AM
Markham Elementary School in Oakland. (CBS)
OAKLAND (CBS 5) — A teacher at Oakland’s Markham Elementary School has been suspended indefinitely after school officials said a pair of second-graders performed sex acts on each other in class – with the teacher present.
“I think everyone is taken aback over this shocking incident,” Troy Flint, the spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District, told CBS 5 on Thursday. “Of course, it is hard to understand how that could have occurred.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Flint said the sex acts incident was one of two separate cases under investigation involving the teacher; both incidents occurred last week in the same classroom but he said they didn’t come to the attention of school officials until Wednesday.
In one case, several students apparently took off their clothes and were naked in the classroom. In the second incident, a boy and girl reportedly engaged in oral sex in front of their classmates.
Flint indicated that the suspended teacher, whose name was not released by the school district, was present for both of the incidents.
Flint and Markham principal Pam Booker said they were limited in terms of the details they could release at this time because of the ongoing investigation into the matter.
Booker noted that the students said to be involved in the incidents were interviewed by school leaders.
In a letter sent to parents of Markham students on Thursday, Booker offered an apology by telling them that the incidents “represent an unacceptable lack of supervision. I understand there is great anger over this news.”
Exploring her legacy
McAuliffe center stresses importance of education
Globe Staff / January 21, 2011
FRAMINGHAM — On Jan. 28, the nation will stop and remember Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire teacher who lost her life along with six other astronauts when the space shuttle Challenger exploded 25 years ago.
25 years later, Christa McAuliffe remembered
But her legacy is at work every day of the year in the town where she grew up.
Thousands of science teachers and students come to Framingham State University each year to learn about space exploration at the Challenger Learning Center, part of the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Education and Teaching Excellence.
“She left an important message about the importance of students and teachers and education,’’ said Grace Corrigan, McAuliffe’s mother, who is now in her mid-80s and still lives in Framingham.
Framingham State, where Christa McAuliffe received her teaching degree, will hold a ceremony on Jan. 27 commemorating the anniversary of the disaster.
NASA plans its own public Day of Remembrance at the Kennedy Space Center in Flor ida the following day.
Last week, 33 middle school teachers were in the Challenger Center’s two simulation rooms, half of them assigned to a space craft orbiting Mars, the other half assigned to the mission control team designed to guide them onto the planet’s surface.
“I’d love to expand our programs more into space,’’ said Dakotah Eaton, an after-school teacher from Athol. “I want to tell them all about this Mars mission. The kids are really interested in Mars.’’
Some of the teachers were too young to recall exactly where they were at 11:39 a.m. on Jan. 28, 1986, a tragic day that haunted a generation, in part because so many schoolchildren tuned in to see the first teacher go into space.
But Matt Hagopian, an eighth-grade science teacher from Worcester, remembers where he was: an eighth-grader himself, home sick for the day, watching the space shuttle launch on television.
He said his goal in participating in the Challenger Center training was to help “generate excitement about space’’ among his students.
“It used to be the whole country was riveted by these launches; I’d like to see it brought back again,’’ said Hagopian, who was transmitting information about a solar flare to his “crew.’’
The hope is that after teachers become students for a day “there will be a flow back of creativity into their school systems,’’ said Karyl Resnick, coordinator of a state program that helps fund Challenger teacher education programs for low-income districts.
Mary Liscombe, the McAuliffe Center’s director, graduated with McAuliffe from Framingham State’s teaching program in 1970. They often had lunch together in the commuter cafeteria in the building where the McAuliffe Center stands today, recalled Liscombe.
Liscombe was at home in Medway with her young children on the day the nation watched the Challenger break apart just 73 seconds after liftoff, a tragedy later blamed on a leak in one of two solid rocket boosters that ignited the main liquid fuel tank.
McAuliffe left behind a husband, Steven, who later became a federal judge in New Hampshire, and two children, Scott and Caroline, now in their 30s.
Inspired by her friend’s ideals and sacrifice, Liscombe returned soon after to the classroom, teaching science at the Charles River School in Dover. In 1994, she joined the McAuliffe Center.
McAuliffe’s mother and Framingham State president Timothy Flanagan are scheduled to speak at the commemoration next week. Eighth-grade students from the Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School in Framingham will present research projects about space.
The school’s science teacher, Daniel Anderson, said his 76 students have conducted interviews via Skype and e-mail with scientists at NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other universities on topics ranging from artificial gravity and spacesuit technology to lunar geology and meteoroid strikes.
It may become an annual school project, he said. “This is a special year.
The 25th anniversary only happens once, but we can celebrate Christa McAuliffe and what she stood for every year.’’
January is not an easy month for the family, Corrigan acknowledged in an interview last week, and the loss of her 37-year-old daughter in the disaster remains sharp even after 25 years.
What motivates her to constantly revisit the pain is the enthusiasm that the space education programs generate.
“I still hear from teachers all around the country,’’ she said.
LINK TO VIDEO:
It's interesting to explore how Hillary Clinton might have acted differently as president instead of President Obama, Ezra Klein notes. Also, there are a lot better ways to spend a personal fortune than on a campaign for office, Klein says.
It's too early to count Sarah Palin out
I believe that people who underestimate Sarah Palin do so at their own risk, but according to recent polls, a lot of people are willing to take that risk.
She has been battered by her use of cross hairs in an ad targeting the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot on Jan. 8 along with 18 others in Tucson. Palin has used fighting words like “Don’t retreat, reload,” and she used the slur “blood libel” to defend herself in a recent video. As a result, she has built up some pretty high unfavorable ratings in the past few days.
A recent CNN/Opinion Research poll shows Palin with a 56 percent unfavorable rating, and a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll shows her with a 53 percent unfavorable rating. Both polls were conducted before Palin appeared Monday in a live interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, however, so they are snapshots in time already outdated by events, the risk inherent in all polling.
By way of comparison, Rasmussen Reports showed President Barack Obama with a 56 percent disapproval rating last December, though he had moved back to 51 percent as of Wednesday. How much attention should you pay to such polls? Not a lot.
As I said, they can change quickly and are affected by daily events and news media coverage. Although some conservatives felt Palin just dug herself in deeper on Hannity’s show — David Frum said, “She should stop talking now” — I thought she did fine.
In fact, whenever Palin stays within her comfort zone, which is a zone containing a sympathetic interviewer with no tough, let alone “gotcha,” questions, she usually does fine.
That is probably not sustainable for an entire presidential election campaign in 2012, but one should not overestimate how much the American voter values intelligence. Adlai Stevenson, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore (who won the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes) and John Kerry were probably hurt more than helped by their intelligence. Bill Clinton masked his intelligence during his first presidential campaign with his “Man From Hope” video and his Bubba image, which were designed to make voters forget he was actually the man from Georgetown, Oxford and Yale Law.
Palin will never have the problem of appearing too intelligent, though when she went up against Joe Biden in a 90-minute vice presidential debate in 2008, she did not fall off the stage. And he did not wipe the floor with her. I, for one, thought she kept him on the defensive — who can forget her wink? — though Biden did have the twin burdens of masking his own intelligence while not appearing to be sneering and superior toward a woman.
As Katie Couric of “The CBS Evening News” demonstrated, however, Palin is not good under pressure or with quizzes.
So you really can’t see Russia from Alaska? And Palin really couldn’t name a single newspaper or magazine that she read? So what?
One should never underestimate the power of a candidate who can make an emotional connection to voters. Ronald Reagan said all sorts of outrageous things, both as a candidate and as president. Often, he would cull them from magazines and would not bother to check whether they were true. “Like any other speaker,” Reagan once told a reporter, “I’d see something and I’d say, ‘Hey, that’s great,’ and use it.”
Did people care? Nah, they loved Ronnie. Palin is no Reagan — she lacks the ideological footing he had, for one thing — but she does know how to connect with people, even if they are not the same people most of the media hang out with.
The best thing you can probably say about her whole cross hairs/reload/blood libel thing is that it was a mistake, and if you are going to make mistakes in a presidential race, it is best to do so early.
This is still early, and Palin still has time to both educate herself and grow more skilled at handling the nonadoring media.
And if Palin’s whole “Mama Grizzly” image will never gain support among liberals, well, that is not the base she is stalking.
Police: Abington man made bombs to clear snow
Wicked Local Abington
Jan 20, 2011 @ 01:04 PM
An Abington man is being charged with creating bombs at his former address in Abington after police had been told the man was blowing up snow banks to avoid shoveling the snow.
Abington Police Chief David Majenski said Leo J. Powers, 23, with a last known address of 45 Margaret Road, Abington, is being charged with threats to commit a crime and possession of incendiary devices.
After serving Powers with an emergency restraining order at a rooming house he was staying in on Washington Street in Abington, police learned Powers had a box of ammunition and a box with “some sort of powder” in it at his former address, according to Majenski.
According to Majenski, police were told Powers had devised a way to use the materials to blow up snow banks instead of shoveling the snow and had been doing it for some time.
Majenski said when police and fire officials arrived at the house, the discovered a container filled with “military-grade ammunition and other stuff, including powders of some sort.”
The Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad was called in and the power was sent to a lab for testing.
“The results came back Saturday morning that the powder was indeed an explosive material,” Majenski said.
Powers was not arrested that night because police were not sure that the powder was explosive. They needed to get it tested first. But Majenski said Powers will soon be summonsed to court on the charges filed by the police department.
Powers, who has a firearms license, was told he needed to surrender all his weapons. He handed over a pistol and a shotgun to police, according to Majenski.
“And I have revoked his license to carry,” Majenski said. “Meanwhile, we’re investigating where he got all the weapons we confiscated and the powder. He said he got them at gun shows in Springfield but we are looking into that.”
Cold case over: Carlina White, kidnapped as infant from hospital 24 years ago, reunites with familyAlison Gendar, James Fanelli, Barry Paddock AND Larry Mcshane
Originally Published:Wednesday, January 19th 2011, 3:05 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 20th 2011, 2:10 AM
Xanthos/NewsCarlina White, named Nejdra Nance by her abductor, landed at LaGuardia airport on Wednesday.
Carlina White as an infant.
Pedin/NewsThe parents of kidnaped baby Carlina White at home in 1987.
Twenty-three years after being snatched as an infant, the victim of a hospital kidnapping cracked the cold case herself when doubts about her bogus "mom" led her home.
Carlina White - just 19 days old when her late-night abduction by a phony nurse stunned the city - was reunited last weekend with her overjoyed biological mother, father and other relatives.
"I'm overwhelmed. I'm just happy. It's like a movie; it's all brand new to me," White told the Daily News Wednesday night as she arrived at LaGuardia Airport for the second reunion with her birth mom.
"Is it really happening?" her incredulous mom, Joy White, wondered after decades of prayers were answered. "I always dreamed this.
It was a stunning and unexpected resolution to one of the NYPD's most frustrating cases: a kidnapper casually carrying an infant out of Harlem Hospital and into the wind.
The last time Joy White and her father, Carl Tyson, laid eyes on their chubby-cheeked child, Carlina was just 21 inches long, weighed 8 pounds and had a fever of 104. It was Aug. 4, 1987 - and it wasn't until Jan. 4, 2011, that their now 23-year-old baby girl was able to let them know she was safe.
"I feel like I don't know who I am!" she told staffers at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in a heartbreaking call around Christmas.
Center officials, long familiar with the White case, launched an investigation that confirmed Carlina's suspicions.
"This young woman gets all the credit," said center President Ernie Allen. "She felt it. Now she could have been just wrong - but in this case, we were able to help her get to the truth."
While Carlina and her once-distraught family were elated by their reunion, there was also anger at the woman who snatched the baby.
"I want her to suffer," Joy White said of the kidnapper. "I want her to do some time, like I suffered for 23 years."
Childhood filled with lies
Carlina was raised in Bridgeport, Conn., under an alias, Nejdra Nance. She told White that the woman she believed was her mother used phony IDs and Social Security numbers.
Joy White said Carlina told her the woman was a drug user who abused her - once hitting her in the face with a shoe - and often left her alone to baby-sit her younger "brother."
A Bridgeport woman named Mary Pettway confirmed that her daughter, Cassandra, had raised Carlina. She refused to discuss the relationship further.
Cassandra Pettway lives in Georgia, and Mary Pettway said she and Carlina were with her at Christmas.
Reached by The News on her cell phone, Cassandra declined to discuss the family history.
"Are you serious?" she snapped. "What do you think my relationship is with her? Mother? No, that's why I won't talk to the media. They have it all wrong."
It remained unclear how Cassandra Pettway came to raise Carlina. Police have not said who they believe abducted the baby.
"We have our suspicion, but not enough probable cause to make an arrest," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said.
The kidnapped girl said she began questioning whether she was really Pettway's kin after her 16th birthday, prompting her to once write to Oprah Winfrey for help. The nagging doubts led her to bolt last year for Atlanta.
When she was pregnant with her now 5-year-old daughter, Carlina asked her fake mom for some paperwork on her background and received a startling response.
"I found out while I was pregnant. That lady told me she wasn't my mother," Carlina said.
She said she began surfing websites on missing children.
"I came across a baby picture that looked like me," she said.
Even before learning the truth, she had suspicions about the woman who was raising her. "I've always been looking," she said.
She contacted the center for missing children in late December and they found three possible matches - including the 1987 hospital abduction.
DNA test brings elation
The NYPD sent detectives to collect DNA swabs from Carlina and her anxious parents, eventually leading to the improbable reunion Joy White always believed would happen one day.
Just as Carlina didn't need a DNA test to know something wasn't right with her "mother," her birth parents didn't need one to know the beautiful young woman was their missing child.
"I already knew in my heart that this was my daughter," said Tyson, who was 22 when he last saw his daughter. "All I could do was shed tears."
Joy White - who kept a framed picture of her infant daughter on her dresser all these years - screamed with delight when she first saw photos of her grownup girl Jan. 4.
"As soon as I saw those pictures, I said, 'That's my daughter,' " she said yesterday at her Bronx home, clutching her photo of infant Carlina. "I saw myself in her."
The DNA matches came back on Tuesday night to the delight of all. By then, White and Tyson had met the young woman they still call Carlina. She flew up last weekend from Atlanta, bringing her daughter, Samani.
An aunt, Lisa White-Heatley, 47, said she and her relatives prepared a feast of curried chicken, macaroni and cheese, lasagna and oxtail to welcome Carlina back into the fold.
"It wasn't awkward. There was a connection right away. We loved her right away," the aunt said of the reunion.
"We ate and talked and got to know each other... I feel great," she said.
Joy White said meeting her granddaughter for the first time was a bonus.
"I can sleep! I can definitely sleep now because this has been on my mind for so many years," said Joy White.
With Samuel Goldsmith and Kerry Wills
Record of President Obama's birth in 1961 is 'in the archives': Hawaii Gov. Neil AbercrombieMichael Sheridan
Wednesday, January 19th 2011, 2:32 PM
Dharapak/APInternet rumors spurred on by a fringe group known as 'birthers' insist that President
Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie
Officials in Hawaii have tracked down papers indicating that President Obama was indeed born in their state, according to its new governor.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who took office in December, told Honolulu's Star-Advertiser on Tuesday that "our investigation" indicates there is a recording of his birth.
"It actually exists in the archives, written down," he said.
The new Democratic head of the state vowed when he took office that he would do his best to end the debate over Obama's birth, which began in 2008 during the presidential campaign.
"We'll do what we can as quickly as we can to make it inevitable that only those who wish the President ill, only the ones with a political agenda, will be the ones doing this kind of thing," Abercrombie told CNN in December. "The President is entitled to the respect of his office and he's entitled to have his mother and father respected."
During that interview, Abercrombie said his goal to combat birthers was a personal one.
"It's a matter of principle with me," the 72-year-old said. "I knew his mom and dad. I was here when he was born. Anybody who wants to ask a question honestly could have had their answer already."
On Tuesday, he again promised he would do "what I can do" to publicly verify that records show Obama was born in Hawaii and is a citizen of the United States, making him eligible to be President.
Birthers insist that the President, born in 1961, is not eligible to be commander in chief. The reasons often vary, and have changed and expanded in the two years since the Internet rumor began.
Some believe his Certification of Live Birth is fake and he was really born in Kenya. Others argue that Obama is a citizen of the United Kingdom or Indonesia. Most theories have been dismissed by many in public office and the media, and have been found to be misleading or generally untrue.
However, the conspiracy theories still thrive, and according to Abercrombie, likely will continue despite whatever evidence that shows him to be a proper U.S. citizen.
"You're not going to convince those people because they have a political agenda, or they have minds that go in that kind of direction," he told CNN. "Conspiratorial theorists are never going to be satisfied. This has gone into another area of political attack."
Randolph police chief foils alleged gold scam
The Patriot Ledger
Jan 19, 2011 @ 06:06 AM
If you’re going to try to sell fake gold jewelry as the real thing, don’t pick William Pace as a potential victim.
Pace not only is the town’s police chief, he runs a jewelry business.
So when a Boston man allegedly offered to sell Pace bogus gold, Pace wasn’t buying.
“I told him this is really not his day. First of all, I’m a cop, and second of all, I’m in the jewelry business,” said Pace, co-owner of William and Kenneth Fine Jewelry in Randolph.
The alleged incident took place at a Sudbury Farms store Sunday. Pace, wearing civilian clothes, was picking up snacks for the Patriots playoff game.
Pace said the suspect tried to sell items to another person before approaching him. He said he offered to sell him a bracelet and a chain for $100.
Pace said the jewelry had 14-karat gold markings but wasn’t the real thing. “Gold has a feel and a look,” he said.
The suspect, identified as Johnnie Butts, 48, of Boston, was taken to the police station. He will be issued a summons to appear in Quincy District Court on a charge of attempt to commit larceny by false pretense.
The chief said Butts had more fake gold jewelry, and police are investigating to see if he sold any.
Alleged Valley spitter faces charge reduced to assault
VIRUS: Wasilla man with hepatitis C faces counts of misdemeanor and felony assault, harassment.
Anchorage Daily News
January 18th, 2011 10:20 PM
Last Modified: January 18th, 2011 10:20 PM
The attempted second-degree murder charge was later reduced in court to felony and misdemeanor assault. The man, Andre L. LaFrance, 29, of Wasilla, was also charged with harassment. He was being held Tuesday in solitary confinement at the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility in Palmer where he was on suicide watch, a state corrections official told the Associated Press. According to a sworn statement by Alaska State Trooper Ryan Mattingley, LaFrance was initially admitted to the emergency room at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center late Sunday evening because of a drug overdose. Mattingley didn't identify the drug. LaFrance was treated and released. He returned to the emergency room Monday, again complaining of a drug overdose. This time, the emergency room staff determined he had not overdosed and attempted to release him, Mattingley said." Andre then claimed to be suicidal and wanted to hurt or kill himself," Mattingley said. "Staff was attempting to restrain him until troopers could arrive. Andre stated he would spit on the staff if placed in restraints."
A nurse managed to get LaFrance in restraints. LaFrance did what he had threatened: He spit in her face, Mattingley said.
Mattingley said LaFrance knew he carried hepatitis C. Mattingley said the state's crime computer recorded that LaFrance had told other troopers he had the disease, a sometimes-incurable blood-borne virus that can lead to liver diseases, including cancer. There's no vaccine for hepatitis C. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the virus is most often spread through intravenous drug use, though medical personnel sometimes contract it through accidental needle sticks. The CDC doesn't consider saliva a major risk factor in spreading the disease. The CDC says about 3.2 million Americans are infected. The nurse spat upon by LaFrance also knew that he carried the disease and was concerned she could contract it through her eyes, Mattingley said. The trooper said she was being tested for the disease. Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist, said the virus may be found in the saliva of some infected people, but the risk of spreading it to another person through their eyes "is extremely low."The hospital had no comment Tuesday evening. The initial charge of attempted second-degree murder said LaFrance had taken "a substantial step" toward killing his victim. When reduced to third-degree assault, a felony, the charge accused LaFrance of recklessly placing the nurse in fear of imminent serious physical injury "by means of a dangerous instrument, to wit: saliva. "The harassment charge accused him of engaging in "offensive physical contact" and the misdemeanor assault charge said he used "words or other conduct" to place another person in fear of injury. At the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, Corrections Sgt. Walter Erickson said Tuesday that LaFrance is "very, very unstable."
Read more: http://www.adn.com/2011/01/18/1654654/infected-spitter-charged-with.html##ixzz1BUAIjHC5
President Obama's approval rating surges in polls following Tucson, Arizona shootingsAliyah Shahid
Tuesday, January 18th 2011, 11:28 AM
Barack Obama's approval rating is the highest its been in more than a year, according to a new poll.
Bam is back.
The President has matched his highest approval rating in more than a year, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Fifty-four percent of Americans approve of Obama's job performance. Support for him hasn't been this high since April 2010 after he signed the health care reform bill into law
The number is also a five point rise from December and an eight-point jump from his lowest rating in September -- just before the Democrats took a thrashing in the midterm elections.
A CNN poll echoed the same results this week, with 53% of Americans approving Obama's job performance.
Americans overwhelmingly favored how President Obama handled the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson, with 78% approving and 13% disapproving, according to the ABC News poll.
An impressive 71% of Republicans said they, too, approved of his response to the rampage, which left six dead and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
In contrast, the poll found that just 30% of those polled approved ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's response to the shooting, while nearly half, 46%, disapproved.
Palin was blasted after the deadly massacre as critics drew a correlation between the shooting and a map she had posted in the spring showing crosshairs over opponents' districts, including Giffords'.
But it's not all roses for President Obama.
He still faces an uphill battle on major domestic issues, which will likely be spotlighted in the lead up to the 2012 presidential elections. Fifty-one percent disapprove his handling of the economy and 52% disapprove his health care policy.
Leaders in Chechnya have ordered that all couples who plan to marry prove they are HIV-negative
Wednesday, January 19th 2011, 4:00 AM
Olson/GettyChechnya couples must prove they're HIV-negative to wed.
The spiritual leaders of Muslim Chechnya have ordered that all couples who plan to marry prove they are HIV-negative, sparking outrage from activists and residents who say it violates Russian law.
A decade after Moscow drove separatists from power in the second of two wars, Chechnya rests on a shaky peace. Spiritual leaders are gaining influence and power in the region, leading analysts to say Chechnya is evolving toward autonomy once again.
"Any potential bride or groom is obliged to receive a medical certificate proving they are HIV-negative," the Chechen mufti's press service said in a statement this week.
An imam can only approve of a marriage once the HIV-negative certificate is obtained. "Only an official representative from the republic's clergymen has that right," the statement added.
Russia's crippling heroin crisis means it is facing an explosive HIV/AIDS epidemic -- the United Nations says at least 1 million people are HIV-positive -- though Chechnya has been little affected by it.
The order comes after the mufti and other spiritual heads demanded last year a total shutdown of all eateries during the holy month of Ramadan and ordered bands of armed men to harass women who did not wear headscarves.
The mufti's orders have no legal weight but are generally followed because he is a respected spiritual leader and because of his ties to Chechnya's hardline leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
"This is, of course, not within Russian law," said Minkail Ezhiev, a human rights worker and founder of the Chechen Civil Society Forum. "We wish human rights were taken into account here," he told Reuters in Grozny.
The Kremlin relies on Kadyrov, who fought against the Russians in the first war but then switched sides, to maintain order in the violent region in the North Caucasus, where an Islamist insurgency is raging.
But rights workers and analysts say Kadyrov's methods to tame the region include a crackdown on opponents and imposing his radical view of Islam. Kadyrov has dismissed the claims as attempts to blacken his name.
"I fully support the wish to protect people but there is too much power falling into certain hands," said Zelim, a Grozny resident in his early 20s. (Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; editing by Noah Barkin)
Monday, January 17, 2011
Cops: Man shot for eating cake
One Philadelphia man did not want his friend to have his cake and eat it too today.
Two friends were in a car on 2nd Street near Callowhill around 2:40 a.m., when the passenger in the vehicle began eating cake the driver had in his car, according to police. This enraged the driver and the two began arguing, a Central Detectives investigator said.
They got out of the vehile and the driver shot his friend once in the chest - all over some cake, according to the investigator.
"They weren't supposed to be sharing" he said. "One was eating the other's food, they got into an argument and 'Bang! Bang!'"
The investigator denied a conflicting report that french fries were at the center of the argument. While food was the catalyst, he said, it was over baked goods, not fried.
Police said the 31-year-old victim was rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he remains in critical condition. The driver fled in his silver vehicle and remains on the lam, police said.
Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011
Lottery ticket at center of civil lawsuit
WARNER ROBINS -- What do criminal charges, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold, a civil lawsuit and a temporary restraining order on further disbursement of funds have to do with one another?
Try a $750,000 winning Georgia lottery ticket purchased in Warner Robins.
Jose Antonio Cua-Toc, 25, of Bonaire, jailed since Nov. 27 in Houston County on a terroristic threats charge for allegedly threatening lottery winner Erick Cervantes and his family, has filed a civil lawsuit against Cervantes and his wife, Sonia, over the winnings.
Cua-Toc is accused of repeatedly calling the Warner Robins couple and threatening “to kill each of them and their children if they did not give him some of the lottery winnings,” according to a Warner Robins police report.
In the lawsuit against Erick and Sonia Cervantes filed Dec. 10 in Houston County Superior Court, Cua-Toc claims that he purchased the winning Jingle Jumbo Bucks lottery ticket Nov. 17, 2010, from the OM Food Mart at 700 Feagin Mill Road in Warner Robins.
But because Cua-Toc did not have the proper documentation to receive the ticket proceeds at a Georgia lottery office in Macon, the lawsuit alleges that Erick Cervantes claimed the winnings on Cua-Toc’s behalf.
Also alleged in the lawsuit is that Cervantes told Cua-Toc that he would return to Cua-Toc the amount of winnings after payment of taxes due on them. The lawsuit estimates that amount at $500,000.
According to the lawsuit, Cua-Toc worked for Cervantes as a day laborer on a job site in Montezuma. When Cervantes was taking Cua-Toc to the job site the morning of Nov. 18, Cua-Toc told Cervantes about the winning ticket and Cervantes took Cua-Toc to Macon to cash the ticket, the lawsuit states.
Erick and Sonia Cervantes have spent a “substantial amount of said proceeds” on the purchase of an automobile, travel expenses and other items to be determined, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks an injunction from additional funds being spent.
Also, the lawsuit seeks recovery of the $500,000 in winnings after taxes plus interest, the award of $250,000 in punitive damage and recovery of litigation costs including attorney fees.
In addition, on Dec. 22, a temporary restraining order on further expenditure of the lottery winnings was approved by Superior Court Judge George F. Nunn. The temporary restraining order was entered by mutual consent by the attorneys representing Cua-Toc and Erick and Sonia Cervantes and applies to the couple as well as Cua-Toc.
In addition to terroristic threats, Cua-Toc was charged by Warner Robins police with forgery in the second degree for two forged identification cards. Cua-Toc was granted a $5,000 bond in Superior Court on Dec. 2 on those charges on the condition he be electronically monitored, according to court records.
But Cua-Toc also has an immigration hold on him placed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Houston County sheriff’s Maj. Charles Holt, who is the administrator of jail operations.
Herbert L. Wells, a Perry attorney representing Cua-Toc, said ICE placed the detainer because agents believe Cuo-Toc may be in the country illegally. If Cua-Toc were to pay the bond and be released from jail, he’d likely be picked up by ICE, Wells said. Wells and Charles R. Adams III filed the civil lawsuit on Cua-Toc’s behalf against Erick and Sonia Cervantes.
Wells declined to elaborate on the lawsuit but did say it would proceed regardless whether Cua-Toc is deported. Adams declined to comment on pending litigation through his law office.
Barbara Gonzalez, an ICE spokeswoman, said she could not comment specifically on Cua-Toc’s case but that in general, whatever interest ICE has in person, that issue is not resolved until after any pending criminal charges are disposed of through the legal system.
Kelly Burke, a Warner Robins attorney representing Erick and Sonia Cervantes, said that Erick Cervantes is the rightful owner of the lottery ticket and that the evidence in court will show his rightful claim to the winnings.
Cervantes told The Telegraph Nov. 23 that he sent a friend to the OM Food Mart Nov. 17 with $40 to pick up groceries and two $10 Jingle Jumbo Bucks tickets. He identified the friend only as “Tony” from Guatemala.
“I want to share it with one of my friends, because we basically got it (the lottery ticket) together,” Cervantes said inside the OM Food Mart when presented an oversized symbolic check of the winnings by a Georiga Lottery representative. “So I want to ... I’m going to give him something.”
Cervantes also told The Telegraph, “I gave him the money to buy some stuff. They usually wait until Friday so I can pay them and stuff, but that day, they were a little bit short on cash so I gave them some money. So I said, ‘If you win, we’re going to split it, OK?’ ’’
Cervantes, a native of Mexico City who moved to Middle Georgia in 1996, declined to comment Friday. He owns Elite Power Washing and Maintenance in Fort Valley.
Burke said Cervantes has been “very generous with Mr. Cua-Toc” but declined to say how much Cervantes gave Cua-Toc of the winnings. Burke also declined to go over Cua-Toc’s allegations except to say “we obviously disagree with what he says.” Burke delcined to elaborate further.
A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. in Houston County Superior Court on a motion for an interlocutory injunction sought by Cua-Toc to prohibit Erick and Sonia Cervantes from “withdrawing, spending or transferring” remaining proceeds from the lottery ticket until the civil lawsuit is resolved. Burke said he plans to oppose it because he says the winnings rightfully belong to Erick Cervantes.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this article.
Student apologized to classmates after his gun went off, hitting two students
Andrew Blankstein and Victoria Kim
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
1:11 PM PST, January 18, 2011
Two Gardena High School students were injured when a gun in a student's backpack accidentally discharged about 10:40 a.m.
One girl was shot in the head, and is in grave condition at a hospital. The other victim, a boy, was wounded in the shoulder. According to Robert Alaniz, an LAUSD spokesman, the gun discharged when a 10th grade boy either dropped or bumped the backpack containing the weapon.
Sources told The Times that after the gun went off, the student who brought it to school apologized to his classmates before running out of the classroom.
He surrendered to police in a dramatic end to a standoff after two fellow students were shot at Gardena High School. Initial reports had said that three students had been shot.
The shooting occurred about 10:30 a.m. on the campus at 1301 W. 182nd St.
LAPD Captain Steve Zipperman said, "It appears to be a possible accidental discharge." He thinks the gun could have accidentally gone off. When asked about how the gun could've gotten past the school's metal detectors, Zipperman said officials were looking into how the backpack got into the school.
Dick Cheney shows off heart device in interview, says Obama is a one-term presidentSean Alfano
Tuesday, January 18th 2011, 9:17 AM
Hoffman/Getty Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has had five heart attacks. He turns 70 later this month. Below, he shows off his battery-powered heart.
Today Former Vice President Dick Cheney is a changed man, sort of.
President George W. Bush's right-hand man has a battery-powered heart, and uses a BlackBerry and Kindle.
"I didn't have even a cell phone in the White House," Cheney admitted in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.
Cheney, however, remains a die-hard Republican who thinks President Obama will get booted from office in 2012 because he overestimated the public's support for health care reform.
"I think he'll be a one term President," Cheney said.
He added that President Obama now understands that the Bush administration's war on terror was the right course of action in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Critics have blasted Cheney's support for harsh interrogation tactics, such as waterboarding, for suspected terrorists.
"I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate," Cheney said of Obama.
Cheney declined to say who he thought would unseat President Obama in two years, but called former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin "interesting" and praised her reality show as "very good."
"She's clearly a factor within the Republican Party," Cheney said.
As for his relationship with Bush, Cheney said it is "pretty good."
Cheney noted that his upcoming memoir will detail some of the differences the two men had.
"I have a bit of the sense that I'll have the last word," Cheney said.
He admitted that Bush considered dropping him from the ticket in 2004 and even offered to step down as vice president three times because of his controversial image.
Bush released his memoir, "Decision Points," last fall.
Cheney, who turns 70 later this month, has not decided whether he will get a heart transplant. He suffered his fifth heart attack last February.
For now, he is outfitted with a battery-powered heart pump.
"It's a wondrous device," Cheney said. "I'm here today because we have that technology."
LINK TO VIDEO:
Roswell third graders caught smoking pot at school
Posted at: 01/17/2011 10:28 AM |
Updated at: 01/17/2011 10:29 AM
The Associated Press
ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) - Authorities in Roswell say two third-graders at Berrendo Elementary School have been caught by their principal smoking marijuana in a bathroom after school hours.
When a responding sheriff's deputy asked one of the boys how many times he had smoked pot, the boy replied he has "hit it hard a lot."
Chaves County Sheriff's Lt. Britt Snyder told the Roswell Daily Record deputies have responded to calls about drugs in elementary schools before.
But Snyder says the Jan. 10 incident marked the first time he's ever heard of third-graders using drugs.
According to police reports, principal Kathleen Gallaway doesn't want to press charges and will punish the children "administratively through the school."
The sheriff's office contacted the Children, Youth and Families Department and determined the case to be closed.
Pulled teeth stored for stem cells
Dentists are pulling teeth, then having the stem cells stored in case they're needed to fight disease.
Naidelys Montoya didn't wait for her son's baby teeth to fall out. She took the boy to an oral surgeon to have two of the loose ones extracted.
``He was a bit scared,'' said Montoya, of Hialeah. ``He's not that brave.''
The dentist shipped the teeth in a temperature-controlled steel container to a lab in Massachusetts, where their stem cells will be spun out, frozen to more than 100 degrees below zero and stored -- in case her son, Raul Estrada, 6, might need them for a future illness.
``I believe in this,'' Montoya said. ``I did as a precaution against things that could happen in the future.''
Montoya and her son have joined a major new medical movement.
In South Florida and around the world, dentists are extracting baby teeth, wisdom teeth and even healthy adult teeth, and researchers are spinning out stem cells that they believe can be used to regrow lost teeth, someday even to repair damaged bones, hearts, pancreases, muscles and brains.
It could put the Tooth Fairy out of business.
``These are teeth we've been discarding as dental waste,'' said Dr. Jeffrey Blum, the Miami Beach oral surgeon who pulled Raul's teeth. ``We might as well get some use out of them.''
``I can't help but feel excitement for their potential use in regenerating different tissues in the human body,'' said Dr. Jeremy Mao, director of the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at Columbia University. Mao also is chief science advisor to StemSave, a New York City company that freezes the stem cells and stores them for later use.
There are concerns. It's expensive, costing $590 upfront plus $100 a year to store the stem cells from up to four teeth for up to 20 years. It's speculative, with the first FDA-approved practical use of such stem cells years away.
``Every treatment using dental stem cells is still in the clinical testing phase, and won't be ready for general use for at least five years,'' said Art Greco, StemSave's CEO.
Montoya understands: ``Things are evolving so quickly, who knows what they will be able to do in 15 or 20 years?'' Other researchers welcome the new source of stem cells.
``Perhaps it does make sense to save'' dental stem cells, said Dr. Joshua Hare, director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, who is not involved with dental stem cells. ``Within human adults and children there are lots of reservoirs of stem cells. We get them from bone marrow; others use umbilical cord blood. It seems teeth are also a good source.''
The National Institutes of Health concluded in 2003 that teeth are a rich source of stem cells. Every child has about 20 baby teeth that fall out between ages 6 and 12. Adolescents have wisdom teeth that often are removed between ages 14 and 25 because they crowd the jaw or grow in crookedly.
Blum and other oral surgeons must extract baby teeth before they fall out naturally, so they still have a blood supply to keep them healthy. He puts them in a temperature-controlled steel container and overnights them to the StemSave facility.
Stem cells are the body's repair system, Hare said. Stem cells beneath the skin are constantly spinning off new skin cells to replace skin that is sloughed off or damaged in daily life. The same is true for hearts, livers, pancreases -- except that as the body weakens from age, injury or disease, those stem cells start to lose the ability to keep up and need help. Today, stem cells from bone marrow, blood and now perhaps teeth can be reprogrammed to help those ailing organs.
Also, by using these stem cells researchers avoid involving human embryonic stem cells, which are controversial because their creation involves destroying human embryos.
The first practical use of dental stem cells probably will be to repair human teeth and jawbones, researchers say. At Boston University's School of Dental Medicine, researchers have used stem cells from baby and wisdom teeth to generate dental pulp, the soft interior of a tooth, and dentin, its hard white casing.
Now they are inserting the material into a broken human tooth and implanting it into a mouse to access a blood supply. When the technology reaches humans, the pulp material would be injected into a spongy ``scaffold'' where a tooth has been removed and prompted to grow into a human tooth. It's at least five years away.
Across the world, the use of stem cells to heal the human body is exploding. At UM Med School, Hare is doing human trials using stem cells from bone marrow to inject around hearts damaged by heart attacks, hoping to regenerate damaged heart tissue.
For years, stem cells from umbilical cord blood have saved the lives of patients with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia, sickle cell and other diseases.
Umbilical cord blood is being donated both to private labs for use only by the donor's family, and also to public donation centers that are opening across South Florida.
In Broward County, Memorial Health Care System, Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, Memorial Regional in Hollywood and Memorial Hospital in Miramar have opened or are opening public cord-blood donation centers.
Women giving birth may donate their umbilical cords without charge. The blood is flown to a lab at Duke University in North Carolina, where the stem cells are spun off and stored at subfreezing temperatures. The cells become part of a National Cord Blood bank where they are available to any patient in the world if an adequate cell match can be determined.
South Miami Hospital opened a similar center in 2009.
Cord blood stem cells collected for private use have been more speculative because of the rarity of diseases it can treat. A 2009 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Obstetrics and Gynecology said cord blood stem cells in private banks have been used in less than half of one percent of cases over the past 10 years. But stem cells in public cord blood cell banks are in short supply, especially for Hispanics and African Americans.
So far, only private banks are storing dental stem cells, although Mao says a public bank would be valuable and appropriate.
The American Dental Association, while cautiously optimistic about the potential of dental stem cells, urges parents considering banking their children's dental stem cells to consider both the cost and the rarity of use before joining private donation programs.
``That's the question people have to ask themselves,'' Blum said. ``Am I saving this for no reason? Is it worth what I'm paying? Essentially it's an insurance policy.''
Another important question, of course, is what Blum tells kids when he ships away their baby teeth before they can collect from the Tooth Fairy.
He shrugs: ``I leave that up to the parents.''
How short is that skirt? Venus Williams' mini-dress at Australian Open turns headsNina Mandell
Monday, January 17th 2011, 5:47 PM
Kolbe/GettyVenus Williams' short skirt earned her as much chatter as her easy first-round win at the Australian Open.
Venus Williams' rising hemlines has many tennis fashionistas asking, how short is too short?
The court star sported a mini-blue "dress" that left many observers wondering where the bottom part of the garment had gone.
CLICK LINK FOR MORE OF VENUS WILLIAMS' OUTRAGEOUS TENNIS DRESSES
She wasn't totally letting it all hang out though – the tennis star did put black spandex shorts under the tank top/dress number.
While her fashion may have gotten the most attention, Williams, who is currently ranked fifth in the world, did finish off her opponent in two sets.
The short dress may have been eye-catching, but the Williams sisters have long been known for their crazy court fashions.
At the 2010 US Open, she worse a sequin-covered dress and flesh-colored shorts and in the French Open last year, she sported a lacy-red trimmed outfit that had many longtime tennis fans turning up their noses and tennis journalists asking more about lace than tennis.
"Lace has never been done before in tennis and I've been wanting to do it for a long time," she told reporters at the time.
Venus' little sister Serena Williams has also sported some crazy styles of her own on the court and also has a fashion line as well as a line of nail polishes.
"It's really stressful," the younger Williams told the Washington Post in 2009. "I think that's why I'm playing more. It's so much easier to play in the tournaments."
Professor under fire for polling students about how to grade student who missed class to give birthPhilip Caulfield
Monday, January 17th 2011, 10:08 AM
UC Davis/Dr. Edward Feldman, a professor at University of California Davis, is under investigation for allegedly polling students about which grade to give to a female student who missed class to give birth.
A senior professor at University of California Davis is under fire for allegedly setting up a bizarre poll that asked students which grade should be given to a female student who missed class to give birth.
Edward C. Feldman, the chairman of the medicine and epidemiology department at the school's veterinary college, polled third-year students as to whether the new mother should receive an automatic letter grade, an average of her scores or a single final exam, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The email, which was sent by the class presidents on Feldman's behalf, was leaked by a ticked UC-Davis student to a blog called On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess, a science blog that focuses on women's issues in academia.
In the email, the class presidents said the female student had recently given birth, which means that she "will undoubtedly miss one, or more, or all quizzes" in a class.
"Dr. Feldman is not sure how to handle this and has requested the class give input and vote. He has provided us with 6 options on which to vote and is open to any other ideas you may have. Most likely a CERE poll will be up next week and voting will close no later than Wednesday," the email said, according to the blog.
Among the letter grades, the professor also offered options that would allow the new mom to be "graded the same as everyone else," given a grade based on an average of her quiz scores or be allowed to take a single final exam.
The school's chancellor said she was reviewing the accusations and promised "swift action."
"I take very seriously any allegations that a student's welfare, dignity or academic rights have in any way been compromised," Linda P.B. Katehi, chancellor at Davis, said in an email provided by Inside Higher Ed. "And as a woman, who has experienced firsthand the challenges of melding academic and family life and has experienced discrimination, I am especially sensitive to this issue."
"This alleged action, if found to be true, would present a serious deviation from the values and principles that guide our campus and our School of Veterinary Medicine," Katehi added.
Katehi also said that the veterinary school, in which 85% of the students are female, has many services to help expectant mothers, including allowing extended leave and private rooms where students can breast-feed their babies.
Feldman told Inside Higher Ed he had no comment about the email.
"I don't care what people say. It is between me, my students and my school," the professor said.
MARK I. JOHNSON
January 13, 2011 12:05 AM Southeast Volusia
An Edgewater man admitted to burglarizing 11 homes after leaving behind a calling card that led officers to his front door, an Edgewater police captain said.
Behind that front door was $30,000 worth of stolen property, the captain added.
Officers took Kevin Jaycob Slagter, 32, of India Palm Drive into custody about 6 a.m. Wednesday after securing a search warrant and tracing a cellular phone found at a burglarized Woodland Drive residence to him, Capt. Dave Arcieri said Wednesday.
"When confronted at his residence and asked about the whereabouts of the phone, he said he could not find it," Arcieri said.
Investigators told Slagter they had the phone, at which time he confessed to breaking into that house and two others, the captain said. The other homes were on Woodland and Silver Palm drives. The three crimes occurred between Jan. 6 and Monday.
The phone was found while officers responded to the Silver Palm Drive break-in, which occurred on Jan. 6, a police report states. It was under an empty game system box.
The homeowners said the phone did not belong to anyone in the residence. In addition to the burglary, police said the burglar ransacked every room in the house.
Arcieri said that upon further questioning Slagter admitted to eight more burglaries in addition to the first three. However, the captain could not immediately provide details of those crimes.
Slagter told police "he has no job, a girlfriend and three children and is unable to provide for his family," the arrest report states.
Over the past several months, more than 30 Edgewater residences have been burglarized. While police say they can tie Slagter to some of those crimes, investigators do not believe all can be attributed to one person.
Still, Arcieri said: "I am pretty confident he will be linked to other burglaries."
The captain said Slagter is the fourth person arrested in connection with the recent string of burglaries. However, officers have not been able to associate Slagter with the others.
Owners of the stolen property -- including electronics, jewelry, computers, coins and other items -- found in the Slagter home will be contacted once police have completed a full inventory of the items, Arcieri said.
Slagter faces multiple counts of burglary, possession of burglary tools, cutting telephone lines to aid in a burglary and grand theft. He was taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail and held on $15,000 bail.
Inquirer Staff Writer
Soon it will be spring again. The snow will melt, the dogwoods flower. Trumpets will blast, graves will open, and Earth will begin a five-month descent to its fiery end.
Radio evangelist Harold Camping can hardly wait.
May 21 is Judgment Day, when "this world will be a horror story beyond anything we can imagine," he asserts.
A fixture on Christian airwaves here and around the world, Camping, 89, is exhorting all who are listening to "make ready" for Jesus' triumphal return, whose precise date he says God has revealed to him with "fantastic proof" in the Bible.
End-of-timers generally have been fixated on the doomsday date of Dec. 21, 2012 - when the "Long Count" calendar of the ancient Maya ends and, presumably, the world with it.
There won't even be a 2012, according to Camping. His website displays the number with a red slash through it.
Just as the Wright brothers figured out flying, Camping has predicted Judgment Day where so many others have failed, said Chris McCann, 49, of Darby, a married father of four who retired from his job in the mailroom at a financial-services company.
McCann is so confident of Camping's prediction that he and 20 others, most from the Philadelphia region, spent 10 days in Ireland and Scotland this month distributing thousands of May 21 tracts.
"This will be the day," he said.
In a phone interview last week from his Oakland, Calif., office, Camping warned that those who do not accept his complex calculations, including even devout Christians, will face "sudden destruction" when Jesus returns.
Although many have lacked Camping's down-to-the-minute surety, predictions of time's end have been burbling up almost since time began, notes University of Wisconsin history professor Paul Boyer, a scholar of apocalypticism.
"Prophetic belief gives order and shape to human experience, and meaning and drama to history," he said last week. "We need beginnings. We need endings . . . Each generation somehow finds evidence that the end times are upon us."
He cited St. Paul; the medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen; the English Pilgrims; the 19th-century founders of Jehovah's Witness and Seventh-day Adventism. Philadelphia's own the Rev. Donald Barnhouse, one of the first radio evangelists, warned for decades that the end was near, without getting specific.
Curiously, said Boyer, the explosion of scientific knowledge in the 20th century - including astrophysicists' confidence that Mother Earth has another 5 billion years - has done little to quell the market for apocalypticism, especially in the United States.
Author Hal Lindsey's 1970 thriller, The Late, Great Planet Earth, has sold more than 30 million copies, and it continues to do so despite its suggestion that the end would come in the 1980s.
The Rev. Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series of novels depicting the Rapture, Armageddon, and the machinations of the Anti-Christ has sold 65 million copies since 1995 and been made into four movies.
Now comes Camping - again.
Associated Press Harold Camping, 89, holds the Bible while broadcasting his show from California.
In the late 1980s, he began warning the end would come in September 1994. When Gabriel's trumpet failed to sound, he revised his dates for several years before dropping the subject.
Now the former civil engineer, who is not ordained, maintains that God has revealed to him the true meaning of many dates and symbolic numbers in the Bible.
Essentially, he argues that May 21, 2011, is "exactly 7,000 years after 4990 B.C., when the [great] flood began," and that these 7,000 years mirror the seven days God gave Noah to warn the world to get ready for destruction.
At the end of the new warning period "there will be a huge earthquake the likes of which has never been had in history," he said in the interview, "and the graves will be opened all over the world."
Jesus will gather up the saved in their glorified bodies - there will only be about 200 million - and the unsaved will be left to rot into manure. "The Bible uses some ugly language" to describe the end, he said.
Five months later, on Oct. 21, "the entire universe will be annihilated."
That Christ will return in glory to judge "the living and the dead" lies at the core of Christian belief, and most conservative Christians share Camping's conviction that the Bible paints an authentic picture of how the world-as-we-know-it will end.
But most also point out that Jesus told his disciples that even he did not know the "day nor the hour" that that will occur.
Quite a few are making a prediction of their own: The sage of Oakland will wake up embarrassed on May 22.
"We joke about it," said the Rev. J.A. Jones, longtime pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Camden, whose large church sits just blocks away from Camping's local radio station, WKDN-FM.
Many of his parishioners have heard Camping's warnings, Jones said, and asked him anxiously if the May 21 date is true.
"I tell them, 'No, but if you're so concerned, why don't you deed us your house and car?' and then they laugh. . . . Everyone who ever made those predictions got egg on their faces," Jones said.
At 106.9 on the FM dial, the 38,000-watt WKDN is one of 66 stations in Camping's Family Radio network, which includes many more small "translator" stations and broadcasts globally in 60 languages via shortwave. He said he had "no idea" how large the network's audience might be.
An employee at WKDN, who asked not be identified, said "not everyone here is on board" with Camping's May 21 date for Armageddon.
Not so Allison Warden of Raleigh, N.C. A Camping disciple, she has not only created a website, wecanknow.com, but through solicitions and donations she and her four-person team have mounted billboards in 10 cities, including Nashville, Atlanta, and Detroit, where Camping's radio message is not heard. "Save the date!" the signs advise. "The return of Christ: May 21, 2011."
"It's amazing to think you're alive when Christ is coming back," Warden said last week. "It's sort of surreal, but very exciting. This is the fulfillment of everything people in the New Testament era have looked forward to."
The Rev. Derek Morris, editor the Seventh-day Adventist Church's clergy magazine, Ministry, said he understands the excitement of believers like Warden and McCann.
"It's a natural human desire, if we believe the Lord Jesus is going to return, to want to know when," he said.
But Adventism's 19th-century founder, New York farmer William Miller, "learned the hard way," said Morris, when he predicted the end would come between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. After the latter date passed without "the dear Lord" appearing, Miller made repeated revisions, but on his final attempt, Oct. 22, he conceded he had erred.
The day became known among his followers (and former followers) as "The Great Disappointment."
Camping does not intend to be disappointed. He has no plans for May 21 other than to "watch and wait," he said.
He scoffed when asked how he might feel if he wakes up on May 22.
"I would be disobeying God if I say there's a possibility of that," he said. "I mean it with all my heart. There's no possibility - none, none, none - that it will not happen."
Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier, ex-Haitian dictator, makes surprise return to country SundayChristina Boyle, Simone Weichselbaum and Helen Kennedy
Originally Published:Sunday, January 16th 2011, 6:50 PM
Updated: Monday, January 17th 2011, 2:59 AM
Coruzzi/Getty; Espinosa/AP Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier said he wanted to see the situation in Haiti.
Haiti's election mess turned explosive on Sunday when ex-dictator Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier unexpectedly arrived in Port-au-Prince after 25 years in exile.
Photos showed Duvalier, 59, in blue suit and tie, walking off an Air France plane with his companion, Veronique Roy, to the welcome of supporters.
His first visit to Haiti since he was deposed by a popular uprising in 1986 received a mixed reaction from Haitians in both the island nation and in New York.
"Everyone wants to know what it means. Everyone is nervous. We don't know what is going on," said Ricot Dupuy, who runs Radio Soleil D'Haiti in Brooklyn.
At Rival Brooklyn Haitian station Radyo Panou, deejay Jean Lynch, 54, said Duvalier's return seemed like a good thing.
"In Haiti we have too many problems. I'm so happy that he is back. Everyone is so happy," Lynch said.
Duvalier's declined to state his intentions, except to say he was there "to help" and to "participate in the rebirth of Haiti."
"I was waiting for this moment for a long time. When I first set foot on the ground, I felt great joy," Duvalier told the Reuters news agency.
"I wanted to show them my solidarity, to tell them that I am here," he said of the suffering people of Haiti, a poor country he is accused of siphoning $100 million from.
Port-au-Prince erupted in a frenzy of rumors and ringing phones as news of Duvalier's return came in the middle of a major political crisis in Haiti.
President Rene Preval, who is supposed to leave office in three weeks, is resisting international pressure to remove his handpicked candidate from a runoff election. A first round of balloting on Nov. 28 was widely considered rigged.
Garaudy Laguerre, a presidential candidate who grew up under Duvalier, was among those expressing shock and wariness.
"He cannot be arriving for a good reason," Laguerre said. "This can only bring instability to Haiti. This is bringing fuel to the fire in terms of the political crisis."
Laguerre said Haiti, which is still reeling from the earthquake a year ago, is too fragile to handle a new blow. "This is not what Haiti needs right now in the middle of fraudulent elections and an electoral crisis," he said.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said he had no hint that Duvalier was set to return or was involved in any local political activities.
"He is a Haitian and, as such, is free to return home," Bellerive said last night.
Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor of the New York-based Haitian Times newspaper, said some Haitians have a misplaced nostalgia for the days of dictatorship.
"A part of the country felt those were the good old days because things got so much worse afterwards," he said. "After the earthquake and the elections, people are looking for any alternative."
Duvalier, who ruled Haiti after the 1971 death of his authoritarian father, Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier, had been living in exile in France.
With Dave Goldiner, Irving DeJohn and News Wire Services
ATM machines as dirty as public bathrooms sez study; bank machines, lavatories have similar bacteria
Tuesday, January 11th 2011, 3:03 PM
Schwartz for News
ATMs are as dirty as public toilets, according to a microbiologist.
A team of researchers took samples from the buttons on a string of high-traffic automatic teller machines in England and compared them with seats of nearby public lavatories, the Telegraph reports.
While there's been no similar study for ATMs in New York City, the study is a good argument for standing online for a bank teller.
The swabs indicated that both the ATM buttons and the public toilet seats contained pseudomonads and bacillus, bacteria known to cause serious stomach distress.
Although it may be your bag that's making you sick rather than the icky ATM.
Family sues cigar-smoking neighbor over secondhand smoke
Last Updated: 6:03 PM, January 16, 2011 Posted: 12:49 AM
New Yorkers can't smoke in restaurants, bars or at work -- or inside their own apartments, apparently.
An Upper East Side cigar smoker said he's done everything to appease the family next door that insists he's generating so much secondhand smoke that it's seeping into their apartment and making life a living hell.
Harry Dale takes most of his smoke breaks outside, uses three air cleaners in his third-floor co-op and even hired a specialist to try to seal off his apartment from that of Russell and Amanda Poses.
Dale, whose wife, Ann, suffered a stroke a few months ago, said he understands how upsetting secondhand smoke can be.
HUMI-DOOR: Cigar-smoker Harry Dale is miffed over a secondhand-smoke lawsuit filed by East 79th Street neighbors Russell Poses and wife Amanda . Dale says he's spent a lot of money in a bid toaccommodate them.
But when the couple decided to put their gripes in a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit, which they filed against the Dales last week, he had enough.
"Oh, you're kidding me," said Dale when told of the lawsuit. "This has been going on for a year. I thought we rectified it. The Poses are absolutely unreasonable."
"He says his son has asthma," Dale said of Russell Poses. "The amount of secondhand smoke that child has been exposed to from my cigars is minimal. The exhaust from the city buses is worse."
The Poses family, who live in apartment 3A, claim the odors and smoke coming from 3G are so strong, they've been practically evicted from their two-bedroom co-op at 501 E. 79th St., a 20-story doorman building where apartments go for $2 million.
"It's pungent enough that you can't eat dinner. I've got two children, and I couldn't let them in their own playroom," said Russell Poses.
The city is considering a law that would ban smoking in public parks, beaches and plazas. While there's no law against smoking inside an apartment, courts have ruled that secondhand smoke is a serious problem if it leeches into another apartment or impacts the neighbors, said John Churneftsky, the Poses' lawyer.
"It constitutes a nuisance and a trespass, and when you have a nuisance or a trespass, the court will order that nuisance remedied," Churneftsky said.
In 2006, a Manhattan judge ruled that secondhand smoke is a breach of the "warrant of habitability," a provision of state law that says tenants are entitled to a "livable, safe and sanitary" apartment. Co-ops and apartment buildings can also choose to ban smoking throughout their buildings, including inside individual apartments.
After they complained for nearly a year, the Poseses said in court papers that the secondhand smoke seemed to subside for about one month last winter.
But it didn't last long. The pair are accusing the Dales of "maliciously" and "spitefully" trying to smoke them out.
The family, including son Charles, 6, and daughter Addison, 3, has lost sleep and suffered headaches, chest pains, and respiratory ailments, and say they haven't been able to use most of their rooms because the fumes are so bad.
The Wall Street equities trader and his wife, who runs her own gift-basket business, are asking for $500,000 in damages for each member of the family.
Ascension deputies: Man shoots burglar
PRAIRIEVILLE — A man at home with his wife and children shot and wounded an intruder in the act of burglarizing the family’s vehicle late Friday night in Prairieville, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday.
Deputies responded to an emergency call from a woman who reported that her husband shot a man outside their home on Stewart Road near La. 933, Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said in a news release.
Deputies arrived at the residence to find Adam Anderman, 28, also of Stewart Road, lying in the yard bleeding from a gunshot wound, Bacala said.
An investigation revealed that John Lott was home with his family when his wife alerted him that a man was burglarizing their parked vehicle, Bacala said.
Lott told investigators that he grabbed his handgun, opened his door and told the man, later identified as Anderman, to get out of the vehicle, Bacala said.
Anderman looked at Lott but continued rummaging through the vehicle, Bacala said.
Lott told Anderman he was armed and warned that he would shoot if Anderman didn’t get out of the vehicle, Bacala said.
Anderman ignored Lott, Bacala said, and a moment later advanced toward Lott while paying no heed to the homeowner’s warnings.
Lott fired several shots at Anderman, who attempted to flee, but fell in the yard a short time later as a result of a gunshot wound, Bacala said.
Anderman, 16366 Stewart Road, Prairieville, was taken to a hospital where he was stabilized and then transferred to a Baton Rouge hospital where he was listed in critical condition, Bacala said.
Investigators believed Anderman would survive the gunshot wound, according to the Sheriff’s Office news release.
The shooting remains under investigation, but Bacala said deputies plan to arrest and book Anderman with burglary and trespassing upon his release from the intensive care unit.
A state criminal records check shows that Anderman was arrested and booked with burglary several years ago, Bacala said.
The suspect is on probation for forgery, possession of a legend drug without a prescription, possession of Ativan, possession of Oxycontin and three counts of obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud, Bacala said.
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - An elderly New Jersey widow billed $5,800 after missing the final payment on her 30-year mortgage can pursue her lawsuit against the debt collectors, a U.S. appeals court ruled.
Lawyers for Dorothy Rhue Allen call the fees charged by two banks and a law firm "unfair or unconscionable" and say they violate state and federal consumer-protection laws.
Allen, now 85, had borrowed $40,000 to buy the Deptford, N.J., home in 1976. She failed to make the final $432 payment in 2006 because she was in the hospital, her lawyer said.
"She's just a wonderful little old lady that got sick," lawyer Lewis Adler told The Associated Press on Friday.
Lenders are under scrutiny in New Jersey and across the country for the way they handled foreclosures during the recent real-estate bust. Six lenders , none involved in Allen's case , have been summoned before the New Jersey Supreme Court to fight for the right to stay in the foreclosure business.
The alleged systemic abuses include so-called "robo-signing," in which employees signed hundreds of documents without checking them for accuracy.
In Allen's case, LaSalle Bank and Cenlar Federal Savings Bank, both of Trenton, N.J., filed court foreclosure papers in 2007. Adler's firm asked how much it would take to resolve the problem. The banks, along with a law firm, outlined $5,797 in charges, including nearly $2,400 in legal fees.
According to Allen's lawsuit, those charges are far higher than allowed under federal and state laws, including the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act. For example, court rules limit attorney fees to $15, not the $910 charged; searches to $75, not $335; and process serving to $175, not $475, the suit said.
"The lenders are sloppy and aggressive, trying to collect every penny," Adler said.
Chad A. Schiefelbein, a lawyer for the defendant banks, declined to comment. LaSalle Bank is now part of Bank of America.
A lawyer representing Fein, Such, Kahn and Shepard, the New Jersey law firm named in the suit, did not immediately return a call for comment.
Allen is now in a nursing home, while a nephew serves as her advocate. The banks stopped foreclosure proceedings after she countersued, and she was able to sell the home for $112,000, according to online records.
But that is not the typical outcome.
More than 65,000 foreclosure cases were filed in New Jersey last year, triple the number in 2006. And 94 percent of them were uncontested, often because homeowners could not afford to get legal counsel, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said last month.
Few consumers are even aware of the rules surrounding debt collection, Adler said.
"Most of the time, they don't have a lawyer. They don't know what rights they have to fix this," Adler said.
He is seeking class-action stutus for Allen's suit.
A district judge in New Jersey had dismissed the lawsuit on grounds the fee notice was never sent to Allen, but only to her lawyers, and therefore was not covered under consumer-protection laws.
However, a U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia ruled this week that the notice amounted to an indirect communication with Allen, and ordered the district judge to revisit the case. Allen is seeking class-action status.
Federal appeals courts around the country have split on that legal question, setting up the possibility it may someday reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Green Bay woman finds crystal meth, cocaine valued at $280K inside her vacuum
Green Bay Press Gazette
January 15, 2011
On the first day of Christmas, my children gave to me … a vacuum cleaner packaged with $280,000 worth of drugs.
Investigators say a Green Bay woman got quite a surprise Dec. 25 when she opened the refurbished vacuum cleaner she'd been given, and discovered two pounds of crystal methamphetamine and 2.2 pounds of cocaine packaged inside the box.
"This was an 'are you kidding me' incident," said Lt. David Poteat, who heads the Brown County Drug Task Force.
It's likely that a smuggler inserted the drugs into the vacuum cleaner box before the unit was shipped from the Juarez, Mexico, area, where it had been reconditioned, Poteat said. No one, including the Green Bay retailer who sold the vacuum, noticed anything amiss, he said, until the woman opened the package and called police.
Authorities say they're convinced the woman played no part in the drug shipment, and don't plan to charge her. They aren't identifying the woman, or the store where the vacuum was purchased, while the case is under investigation.
Poteat said criminals use a variety of ways to get drugs into the Green Bay market, including sneaking them into packages containing other items.
"Meth, in general, has not been a significant issue for us," he added. "But cocaine has remained strong in this area" of Wisconsin.
Last year, the task force, which operates primarily in Brown County, seized drugs with an estimated street value of $2.65 million — up significantly compared with 2009 figures. Cocaine seizures totaled 8.7 pounds. Meth seizures totaled 1.9 pounds.
A 6-foot-11 girl basketball player takes Philly by storm
Rutgers Prep's Marvadene Anderson will showcase her skills in two area high school basketball tournaments this weekend.
Sat, Jan. 15, 2011
A 6-foot-11 girl basketball player takes Philly by storm
SOMERSET, N.J. - Marvadene Anderson has received the same looks her entire life - stares and double takes whenever she takes the basketball court, just like when she used to walk the streets of her native Jamaica.
So when the 6-foot-11 high school junior plays Saturday at Philadelphia University and Sunday at Upper Dublin High, she expects the same reactions from her opponents that she had from her teammates when she enrolled at Rutgers Prep less than two years ago.
"They were like 'wow,' because they had never seen a girl my height," Anderson said after scoring 18 points in a 58-33 win over Franklin on Thursday. "They were all like, 'Oh my God,' but I was used to it, anyway. Even now, people I am acquainted with, they still stare like they've never seen somebody my height before."
Rutgers Prep is entered in both the Philly.com/Rally Scholastic Play by Play showcase at Philadelphia University and the Blue Star Tournament at Upper Dublin.
The Argonauts will face Archbishop Wood in Saturday's featured game, at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, they will play University High, from Newark, N.J., at 6 p.m.
In July 2009, Anderson left her family in Clarendon, Jamaica, to take up a sport she had never played before at the Somerset school.
Enid Angus orchestrated the move when she saw a story about Anderson in a Jamaican newspaper. Angus is vice president of overseas operations for the Jamaica Basketball Association, and now she is also Anderson's guardian. Anderson lives with Angus and her three children and two grandchildren.
Angus is one of many helping Anderson - whose parents are 6-foot-3 and sister is 6-foot-4 - begin a basketball career.
The bulk of the responsibility lies with head coach Mary Klinger, who is teaching Anderson a game she traveled to America to learn and turn into a college education.
Anderson estimated that her basketball career spans a year and two months, but after accounting for a broken tibia that sidelined her for most of last season, Klinger set it at less than a year.
College coaches, though, have taken notice.
The 17-year-old receives mail mostly from Big East schools, but also has received interest from Memphis, Florida, Florida State, and North Carolina State.
After a media-frenzied debut season, Anderson took a step back from the spotlight this year to focus on her education and basketball. She is averaging 11.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks in the Argonauts' first nine games.
"I'm doing some things that I didn't know I could do as a player this early," Anderson said. "I thought it would take a few years to start doing things in a game this well, but I've been working in practices and my extra time to get better."
Klinger was surprised Thursday, when Anderson tipped in a missed shot for the first time, rather than just grabbing a rebound. And although her pupil still struggles with establishing post position and with her stamina, the upside is undeniable.
"The one thing I think you'll notice is she has great hands, and that's something she's always had," Klinger said. "And she doesn't have any bad habits, because what she's learned, she's learned fundamentally. If she continues to improve, then the sky's the limit for her."
Anderson is interested in improving so that her journey to a new country is not for naught.
"In Jamaica, you don't really find people your age, your height," Anderson said. "When I came here, I see people my height - mostly guys - but I don't feel lonely anymore. When I was in Jamaica, I never thought I'd find anything this useful with my height. I'm just grateful for the opportunity."
And chances are most of her high school opponents never thought they would have to box out or defend against a 6-11 center, so they cannot help but stare.
Anderson, though, is used to that by now.
"For her to be where she is and her size and her life experiences, she's going to be very successful," Klinger said. "She handles things, and even with some of the comments, she's proud. She sticks those shoulders out and she's proud."
Group: Oldest living African-American dies at 113
Mississippi Winn poses for a photo for archival purposes by Robert Young of the Gerontology Research Group Monday July 19, 2010 in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Caddo Parish Coroner's Office confirms that Mississippi Winn died Friday afternoon Jan. 14, 2011 at age 113 at a nursing home in Shreveport. Winn is believed to have been the oldest living African-American in the U.S. and the seventh oldest living person. Young says Winn was one of two known people in the U.S. whose parents were almost certainly born into slavery because documents show they were born before the end of the Civil War, though her great-niece Mary C. Hollins says Winn never acknowledged that. (AP Photo/Robert Young)
SHREVEPORT, La. — When she turned 113, Mississippi Winn could still stand up on her own and never thought her age was a detriment to her life.
The upbeat former domestic worker from Shreveport, known in the city as "Sweetie," died Friday afternoon at Magnolia Manor Nursing Home, said Milton Carroll, an investigator with the Caddo Parish Coroner's Office. He said he could not release her cause of death.
Winn was believed to be the oldest living African-American in the U.S. and the seventh-oldest living person in the world, said Robert Young of the Gerontology Research Group, which verifies information for Guinness World Records.
Young said Winn was one of two known people left in the United States whose parents both were almost certainly born into slavery because documents show they were born before the end of the Civil War, though her great-niece Mary C. Hollins says Winn never acknowledged that.
"I don't know much about that," Hollins recalled Winn saying when asked about her parents' early years.
Young visited Winn in July 2010 and remembered her being much more fit than others her age.
"When I asked her how old she was, she knew she was 113 but she thought she was young," he said. "She always thought there would be a next year. Unfortunately that didn't happen. That was just the thing — she had a very positive attitude."
With Winn's death, Young's Los Angeles-based gerontology group has verified Mamie Rearden, 112, of Edgefield, S.C., as the current oldest known living African-American in the U.S. He said Eunice Sanborn, 114, of Jacksonville, Texas, is the world's oldest known living person.
Hollins said Friday evening that Winn was in good health and mentally sharp until recently.
She described her great-aunt as "a strong-willed person, a disciplinarian" who believed that elders should be respected.
"She was living on her own until she was 103," Hollins said, cooking for herself and taking walks. "She just believed she could handle anything."
Winn, who never married, was a caretaker of children and a cook. She lived nearly her entire life in Louisiana, though she resided in Seattle, Wash. from 1957 to 1975, Hollins said. She had been a member of Shreveport's Avenue Baptist Church since 1927 and used to say, "I am gonna stay here as long as he wants me to stay here."
"One of the reasons for her longevity was that she just kind of took things as they'd come, everyday life and living. She didn't let nothing upset her and get all hyped up by some of the things as we do," Hollins said.
Carroll said Winn was well-known in Shreveport. Last spring, the mayor declared "Miss Mississippi Winn Day" on March 31 when she turned 113.
"She was just a vibrant lady," he said. "Once you came in contact with her, you were impacted."
According to a biography released by the city, Winn was one of eight children, including a sister who died in 2000 at age 100.
"Her father named her Mississippi but her mother always called her Sweetie," the bio said. "Her favorite hobby is sewing and favorite book is the Bible."
Her favorite quote from the Bible: "Be ye kind one to another."
January 15, 2011 07:16 AM EST
American debt reaches $14 trillion; Congressional leaders set for fight over raising debt ceilingNina Mandell
Originally Published:Sunday, January 16th 2011, 4:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, January 15th 2011, 5:38 PM
Wong/GettyU.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged Congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling.
The government debt has ballooned to an all-time, eye-popping high: $14 trillion.
And what does the frightful milestone mean for the average American? A whopping historical record $45,300.
While the government spending debate has been going on for decades, the upcoming one will center around whether or not Congress will lift the legal debt limit or rework the budget to cut spending in order to stay under the current cap.
The Obama Administration (and most Democrats) are encouraging Congress to pass the bill allowing the increase. They argue it will help protect the American economy from potential disaster.
On Jan. 6, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), encouraging him to lift the ceiling.
"Never in our history has Congress failed to increase the debt limit when necessary. Failure to raise the limit would precipitate a default by the United States," he wrote. "Default would effectively impose a significant and long-lasting tax on all Americans and all American businesses and could lead to the loss of millions of American jobs. Even a very short-term or limited default would have catastrophic economic consequences that would last for decades."
While the issue of raising the debt ceiling is under the political spotlight now, it's not anything new.
The current debt ceiling was raised to $14.3 trillion last year, but under a heavily-Democratic Congress, did not spark nearly the same debate. But in 2006, Democrats - including President Obama - fought against raising the debt ceiling to protest the trillions being spent on the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can't pay its own bills," he said. "It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance the government's reckless fiscal policies."
Now that Republicans --who have promised fiscal responsibility -- have a majority in the House, the Democrats are bracing for a tough fight.
Newly-elected Republicans are especially nervous about the vote, GOP leaders told the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
They added while they expected the vote to raise the debt ceiling to pass, the bill would come with significant cuts. What exactly those cuts would be is unclear.
"Do I want to see this nation default? No," said Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee. "But I want to make sure we get substantial spending cuts and controls in exchange for raising the debt ceiling."
With News Wire Services
Posted on Friday, 01.14.11
Coral Springs principal arrested on pot charge
A Broward County principal was arrested Friday after police found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in her Coral Springs home.
Amanda Miles, 60, is the principal of Coral Park Elementary in Coral Springs.
She was charged with felony drug possession and taken to Broward County's main jail in Fort Lauderdale.
Her son Michael, 18, was also arrested Friday. He was found with 126 grams of pot and charged with intent to deliver, Coral Springs Police spokesman Lt. Joe McHugh said.
Police came to Miles' home Friday as part of an ongoing drug investigation.
``The officers were able to get a warrant signed by the judge,'' McHugh said.
Police found more than 20 grams of pot, two pipes and two packs of rolling papers in Amanda Miles' bedroom, according to the arrest affidavit.
Because Amanda Miles is the only person who sleeps in that bedroom, police consider her to be in ``direct possession'' of the drugs and paraphernalia.
A Broward County schools spokeswoman said district administrators were searching for an interim principal.
What's your sign, baby? Astronomer says the zodiac is completely inaccurate
Capricorn: Jan. 20 - Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16 - March 11
Pisces: March 11 - April 18
Aries: April 18 - May 13
Taurus: May 13 - June 21
Gemini: June 21 - July 20
Cancer: July 20 - Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10 - Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16 - Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30 - Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23 - Nov. 29
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29- Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17 - Jan. 20
SOURCE: Minnesota Planetarium Society
When astronomers in 2006 declared that Pluto was no longer a planet, the world gasped -- and then obeyed. School textbooks were re-written, and scientific discovery ruled the day.
Then this week, a Minnesota astronomy professor took on something even more sacred -- our horoscopes.
The astrological calendar was all wrong, he said in public comments that set the Internet aflame.
People might think they're a Pisces (compassionate, imaginative), but often they're really an Aquarius (witty, clever) -- at least based on an exact reading of the earth's orbit.
Or maybe, if you were born between Nov. 29 and Dec. 17, you're actually a strange new zodiac sign: Ophiuchus, the serpent holder.
But who wants to admit to being that snake-guy sign on a first date?
``I defined the zodiac by the constellations that are in the background when you look at where the sun, moon, and stars are,'' said Minneapolis Community and Technical College instructor Parke Kunkle, the man responsible for momentarily turning the astrology world upside down. ``Ophiuchus has been around a long time, and the sun has been going through Ophiuchus for thousands of years.''
In Kunkle's 13-member zodiac, the signs occupy more or less space on the calendar depending upon how long they are in the sun's path.
Though Ophiuchus (seeker of wisdom, lucky) has only what amounts to a celestial toe in the sun's path, Kunkle defended its inclusion by noting it hosts the sun for more than twice as long as Scorpio (independent, passionate).
Leading astrologers, after getting their collective bearings, were unified and defiant in their response: Not this time, Science.
``It holds no water,'' said South Florida's self described ``master astrologer'' Jeffrey Brock. Brock said it was a ``completely unfounded'' attempt by scientists to discredit astrology, which they'd never been fond of to begin with.
Proclaimed Miami astrologer Ron Archer: ``Mythology is always true.''
Even über-astrologer Walter Mercado weighed in, telling El Nuevo Herald that there would be no need to change its horoscopes.
Kunkle's re-examining of astrology is rooted in the earth's ``precession'' -- put simply, the gravity-fueled change in orientation of the Earth's rotational axis.
``The earth sort of spins like a top,'' explained Florida International University physics professor James Webb. ``It usually doesn't just stand up straight and spin, it usually wobbles.''
``Astrologers for years have not taken that into account,'' Webb continued. ``So now people are starting to call them on it.''
Hogwash, responded Brock, director of the Astrological and Metaphysical Research Center. Brock said the brand of astrology practiced by the vast majority of the Western world focuses on the first day of spring -- an ever-shifting date that compensates for the planet's rotational habits.
As for the inclusion of Ophiuchus, Brock said ``we've always known about Ophiuchus'' but that because the constellation only barely touches the sun's path, it is not truly a zodiac sign.
Up in Minnesota, Kunkle said the publicity frenzy surrounding his remarks has prompted media calls from as far away as France. Kunkle noted that he's by no means the first member of the scientific community to raise this issue (it's been debated for thousands of years). But thanks to the Twittering, Facebooking age we live in, he might just be the most famous.
Kunkle has never been a horoscope reader. When people ask his sign, he usually tells them ``vegetarian.''
Recalling all the paintings and poems inspired by the stars, Kunkle argued that there's plenty of reasons for people to look skyward without believing in astrology:
``What they get then is the beauty of the universe, the beauty of the cosmos out there.''
MLK snow make-up days upset civil rights groups
For the AJC
January 13, 2011
ATLANTA — A decision by two Georgia counties to use the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to make up a snow day has infuriated civil rights leaders, who say the districts are insulting the civil rights icon in his home state.
Fannin and Gilmer counties in north Georgia are calling students to class on the federal holiday after school was wiped out for the week because of the epic snowstorm that paralyzed the state.
The superintendents from the districts said they had little choice to start making up for nine days missed because of the foul winter weather this school year. But civil rights leaders said the decision was an insult to King and shows disrespect for the holiday in his name.
"It's an opportunity for people, black and white, to reflect on what King's dream meant for blacks and whites," said Georgia State Conference NAACP President Edward DuBose. "And it's humiliating to hear that school districts want to take a snow day rather than to honor Dr. King's legacy."
The snowstorm forced school officials throughout the state to make tough decisions. Ice as thick as an inch-and-a-half that coated north Georgia roads forced many school administrators to cancel classes for the entire week, as they worried buses would slide on hilly roads.
Gilmer County schools superintendent Bryan Dorsey said his administrative team will "be sensitive" to the fact that his district's 4,000 students will be returning to class on Monday, though he said he wasn't sure yet whether teachers would give lessons on King.
"It's not our intention to try to remove holidays, but unfortunately, in these circumstances, we have very limited options," said Dorsey, who added that the district hasn't received any complaints about the move.
"Mostly what we have gotten is ‘Thank goodness you're taking our children back.' Cabin fever has set in," Dorsey said.
Fannin County schools superintendent Mark Henson said the wintry weather has wreaked havoc on the district's calendar.
"Changing our school calendar is never easy for us, and we regret that we have had to make this decision," he said in an e-mail. "But we believe that it is in the best interest of our students to be in school as much as possible so that they can be successful in life."
The two counties are both in extreme north Georgia and both have populations that are more than 90 percent white.
And while the vast majority of Georgia school districts are not holding classes on Monday, the issue has cropped up in other states as well. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools decided to also hold classes on Monday, prompting criticism from the local NAACP chapter and a city councilman.
But the counties' decision struck a particular nerve in Georgia, the state where King was born and later the launching pad for the civil rights movement.
"Am I surprised? Probably not. But I'm disappointed," said state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat and a leader of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. "It's supposed to be a day of service, a day of reflection. And this sends a message that the home state of Dr. King may not fully value him."
JAMIE SCHRAM, AMBER SUTHERLAND and JENNIFER FERMINO
Last Updated: 7:12 AM, January 14, 2011
Posted: 1:04 AM, January 14, 2011
She may waddle like a duck, but it's mink or better for this lifelong fur thief.
A stocky Brooklyn klepto who has been preying on high-end Manhattan boutiques since the 1980s -- stuffing the loot under her clothes or a girdle -- has been caged again, authorities said yesterday.
Johnnie Taylor, 50 -- who prison records list as 5-foot-2, 218 pounds -- was caught red-handed last Friday trying to make off with an $8,000 mink coat from a store she previously robbed in September, authorities said.
"She walked like a duck," said Northern Furs Fashion owner Naoum Vantas, who recognized her from the earlier theft, when she took more than $25,000 in furs.
Vantas said she came into his Garment District shop on Jan. 7 with a bag strapped to her belt and hidden under her skirt so she could hide her loot.
He said he watched her stuff an $8,000 mink coat into the bag but was determined not to let her get away this time.
Vantas confronted Taylor, who tried to escape after a profanity-laced tirade, he added.
"She was nervous. She knew she would be in trouble," Vantas said.
Cops arrested Taylor and charged her with robbery in the third degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree.
The charges also cover the Sept. 14 heist -- a little over a month after Taylor got out of jail for another fur theft -- when she made off with a sable and a mink jacket, a mink coat, and two mink stoles, authorities said.
Taylor has served four separate stints in state prison dating back to 1987, each time for stealing expensive fur coats and high-priced duds from an assortment of the city's poshest retailers.
In 2008, she was convicted of grand larceny for ripping off three different retailers. She made off with a $50,000 Russian sable coat in one heist, two sweaters from Saks Fifth Avenue worth $2,840, and a $1,680 dress from Barneys.
She tried to hide the Saks sweaters by shoving them in her girdle, officials said.
She served a year and a half for those crimes and was released on parole in August.
Taylor has also been arrested for retail theft in Maryland.
Additional reporting by Laura Italiano
Ian Jackson MacDonald, accused drug smuggler, nabbed after 30 years on America's Most Wanted listNina Mandell
Thursday, January 13th 2011, 8:44 PM
Landovan Jackson MacDonald, now 71, has been arrested after 30 years on the run.
After spending three decades on America's Most Wanted list, Ian Jackson MacDonald had three words for US Marshals when they caught him this week: "You got me."
Macdonald, also known as "Big Mac" was arrested in 1980 and accused of masterminding a drug smuggling ring, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
But before he could stand trial, the alleged criminal mastermind faked a heart attack and escaped.
Macdonald eventually moved to Pennsylvania, where he lived quietly under the assumed name of Jack Hunter, according to the newspaper.
That is, until, a cold case unit in Miami was assigned to his case late last year.
"You're right, you got me," MacDonald reportedly replied when he was busted by the feds this week. "I have been looking over my shoulder all these years. I wondered when this day would come."
What marshals found, according to the newspaper, was a man living in stark contrast to the high-flying big spender they captured in the 1980s.
The owner of an appliance store in Pennsylvania, MacDonald was also receiving about $1900 a month to work as a horse caretaker, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Now he'll face the original charges against him – of being a co-conspirator to import up to 500 pounds of marijuana from Florida to Canada – in addition to charges relating to the escape.
"These federal warrants, they never go away," U.S. Marshals senior inspector Barry Golden told the paper. "These guys do run, but we always catch up with them one day down the road."
MacDonald wasn't the only long-lost criminal busted this week.
In Los Angeles, a woman who escaped from prison 32 years ago where she was serving a sentence for credit card fraud, was finally nabbed.
Nancy Garces was caught taking a trip from New Mexico, where she moved decades ago after scaling a fence in the prison yard, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"This is a message to all at-large felons that California law enforcement agents never give up when searching for fugitives," Michael Ruff, a special agent with the California Department of Corrections, told the newspaper.
Second teacher caught in lesbian romp at James Madison High School firedMeredith Kolodner
Wednesday, January 12th 2011, 6:07 PM
French teacher Cindy Mauro (l.), 34, and Spanish instructor Alini Brito (r.), 30, were caught in a compromising position last year at James Madison H.S. Mauro was fired Wednesday for the scandal.
A second "Horndog High" teacher was fired Wednesday amid a new allegation that her sexual relationship with another teacher started years before that fateful night.
Cindy Mauro was found guilty of "extremely serious misconduct" for having a sexual encounter with fellow teacher Alini Brito in November 2009 at James Madison High School in Brooklyn during an evening student performance.
An arbitrator found Mauro's defense - that she was aiding her diabetic friend by getting her candy and that custodians and security agents were mistaken when they said they saw them naked in a classroom - "lacking in basic truthfulness."
Another Madison teacher, Maria Bucca, testified Mauro had told her she had "fooled around" with Brito eight years earlier. Mauro denied having told Bucca the two had ever been intimate.
Assistant Principal Jody Cohen also testified that immediately after the incident, Mauro told her it was "just a kiss." Mauro also denied making that statement.
The report said Mauro's "poor judgement" was compounded by her refusal to "take responsibility for her actions."
"The saying comes to mind," the report stated, "'Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.'"
Former Giants great Lawrence Taylor scores big time with no-jail deal; cops to two misdemeanorsOren Yaniv
Thursday, January 13th 2011, 3:25 PM
Simmons/NewsLawrence Taylor was looking at a possible four years in prison before pleading guilty to patronizing a prostitute and sexual misconduct.
Former football great Lawrence Taylor scored a no-jail deal Thursday, pleading guilty to patronizing a prostitute and sexual misconduct in exchange for six years probation.
He was looking at a trial for statutory rape - and a possible four years in prison - when he copped to the two misdemeanors.
Taylor admitted he paid $300 to have sex with a 16-year-old runaway in a Rockland County hotel room - but said he didn't know her real age.
"She told me she's 19, but I don't know," Taylor said.
Taylor, 51, will have register as a sex offender, but there will be a hearing to determine what level.
"He's basically exonerated," lawyer Arthur Aidala said of the former Super Bowl hero.
80-year-old jewel thief convicted in San Diego heist
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 5:54 p.m.
Doris Payne, 79, listens during her preliminary hearing Thursday in San Diego Superior Court on jewel theft charges. The judge found enough evidence to order her to stand trial.
SAN DIEGO — An 80-year-old woman who has been described as an international jewel thief with a criminal history that spans five decades was convicted Wednesday of felony charges for stealing a ring from a local Macy’s store last year.
A jury found Doris Payne of Long Beach guilty of burglary and grand theft, stemming from the heist at Fashion Valley mall.
She is expected to be sentenced Feb. 9 in San Diego Superior Court. Prosecutors have said she could be sent to prison for up to five years and eight months.
Dozens of news articles note Payne’s long career as a shoplifter who would casually walk away from high-end stores with stolen goods. She has been arrested in at least five states and served several prison stints.
Prosecutor John Pro told the jury that Payne walked up to the fine jewelry counter at Macy’s on Jan. 2, 2010, identified herself to a saleswoman as “Audrey” and said she was looking to buy a gift for her daughter.
She was able to distract the saleswoman and slip away with the $8,900 diamond ring, the prosecutor said. Later, she told a detective she sold the ring for $1,800.
Payne’s lawyer, Gretchen von Helms, argued that Payne was not at Fashion Valley that day and that she not the woman in surveillance footage recorded in the store.
Von Helms said witness identifications of her client were “tainted” when they viewed photos and news articles featuring Payne on the Internet.
According to published reports, Payne’s criminal exploits took her from West Virginia, where she was born, to Europe and beyond. A West Hollywood film crew has been gathering footage about Payne’s life for an upcoming documentary and there’s talk of a feature film in the works starring Halle Berry.
LINK TO PREVIOUS STORY:
Doris Payne, 79, is not your typical jewel thief
She has a five-decade history of shoplifting and faces theft charges in San DiegoDana Littlefield Friday, September 24, 2010 at 8:11 p.m.
SAN DIEGO — When you think of an international jewel thief, you don’t think of 79-year-old Doris Payne.
News articles detail her long criminal career. She’s been arrested in at least five states and served several prison stints.
Payne told one reporter she had given up her five-decade shoplifting career. Even so, she was in a San Diego court this week on a jewelry theft charge.
Police say she stole an $8,600 diamond ring from Macy’s at the Fashion Valley mall in January. She has pleaded not guilty.
Payne, who lives in Long Beach, was in San Diego County on Thursday for a Superior Court hearing. A West Hollywood film crew followed her around to gather footage for a documentary about her life.
“She’s a fascinating character,” said Matthew Pond, one of the project’s producers. “Doris is one of these people who never really stopped to think about the rules and whether they should apply to her. She just really does her own thing.”
Published reports say Payne’s illegal exploits took her from West Virginia, where she was born in 1930, to Europe and beyond. Always dressed-to-impress, she never resorted to violence in her heists. Instead, she distracted sales clerks at high-end stores before casually walking away with the goods.
She picked some of her targets by reading about them in Town & Country magazine, according to courtroom testimony.
Her lifestyle drew a lot of attention — first from police, then the public. There’s talk of a Hollywood feature film starring Halle Berry.
“It’s a feel good family crime story,” Pond said.
Judge Leo Valentine Jr. determined at Payne’s preliminary hearing Thursday that she should stand trial on commercial burglary and grand theft charges.
She faces five years and eight months in prison.
Valentine ordered Payne to stay away from all Macy’s stores while her case is pending. Deputy District Attorney Kristie Nikoletich made the request after learning Payne may have recently been at a Macy’s in Arizona.
“I have been there,” Payne told a reporter later, gesturing toward her beige sleeveless shirt dress. “I bought this there. For this court appearance.”
Published reports say Payne was given a 12-year sentence for stealing a five-carat diamond ring from a Neiman Marcus in Denver. In 2005, she stole an $8,500 ring in Nevada and a $31,500 ring in Palo Alto, while on parole.
Payne was in an Orange County jail in late January when a San Diego police detective interviewed her about the Macy’s incident. She had been arrested on suspicion of stealing a $1,300 Burberry trench coat from a Saks Fifth Avenue in Costa Mesa. She pleaded guilty to grand theft in April and was placed on probation.
She is out of custody on bond in connection with the San Diego case.
Detective Thomas Jacques said he told Payne he saw her in surveillance video recorded Jan. 2 in the Macy’s fine jewelry department. He said she tried on a ring, switched it from one hand to the other, then walked away.
The detective testified that Payne was in the video but wouldn’t admit “straight up” to taking the pear-shaped sparkler.
Defense attorney Gretchen von Helms argued unsuccessfully that the identifications of Payne by two store employees should be thrown out because they were “tainted” by stories and photos of Payne that they viewed online.
But the judge said the identifications were buoyed by the detective’s testimony that Payne said she sold the bauble for $1,800 to a jeweler she found in the phone book.
A store sales manager and longtime Macy’s employee is not a fan of Payne’s. She testified that the store put her on probation after the theft.
January 13, 2011, 10:14 am
Remedies: Chewing Gum for Heartburn
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
What alternative remedies belong in your home medicine cabinet?
More than a third of American adults use some form of complementary or alternative medicine, according to a government report. Natural remedies have an obvious appeal, but how do you know which ones to choose and whether the claims are backed by science? In this occasional series, Anahad O’Connor, the New York Times “Really?” columnist, explores the claims and the science behind alternative remedies that you may want to consider for your family medicine cabinet.
The Remedy: Chewing gum.
The Claim: It relieves heartburn.
The Science: It may be hard for most people to think of chewing gum as a remedy for anything other than a case of bad breath. But several studies in recent years have shown that it can in fact help alleviate the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, better known to most people as GERD or heartburn.
Chewing on a piece or two of gum, it seems, helps force fluids back into the stomach and flood the esophagus with alkaline saliva, neutralizing acids that cause the characteristic burning sensations.
One independent study demonstrating this, published in 2005 in The Journal of Dental Research, involved 31 patients who were recruited for testing after they showed up at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London with symptoms of heartburn. The scientists conceded that their hypothesis going into the study “was that chewing gum does not have any effect on the clearance of reflux from the distal esophagus.”
Ultimately, they were surprised. On two separate days, they asked subjects to fast for four hours, then fed them a “refluxogenic” lunch that would give just about anyone heartburn: two bars of full-fat cheddar cheese, green salad with two tablespoons of mayonnaise, 15 large chips and half a pint of full-fat milk. On both days, some of the subjects were then randomly selected to chew sugar-free gum for half an hour after the meal.
After monitoring the subjects for two hours after the meals, they found that acid levels were significantly lower when the participants chewed gum. The study was financed by King’s College London School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Another study, this one in 2001, involved 36 people, some of them with diagnosed cases of GERD and others who were healthy controls. The study found that chewing sugarless gum for an hour after a large breakfast reduced acid reflux in both groups for up to three hours, particularly in the heartburn group. The study was carried out by gastroenterologists at Veterans Affairs hospitals in New Mexico and Illinois, and financed by the American Digestive Health Foundation.
The Risks: Frequently chewing sugary gum may damage tooth enamel and increase cavities. But sugar-free varieties containing xylitol — which helps inhibit tooth-eroding bacteria — can have a protective effect.
Jan. 13, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Four days after a gunman opened fire on a congresswoman and her constituents in Tucson, President Barack Obama joined thousands of Arizonans at an emotional memorial service Wednesday, counseling them and the rest of the nation to remember the fallen in ways that heal instead of wound.
Obama pleaded with Americans to set aside petty finger-pointing and instead raise the level of discourse to one "worthy of those we have lost." He eulogized the six people who died and praised the courage of the survivors, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose steady recovery seemed to buoy the grieving.
The memorial service, held in the University of Arizona's basketball arena, welled with emotion at times, but at other times resembled a political rally, with the audience cheering appearances by Gov. Jan Brewer, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder.
Obama, who visited with relatives and victims before the service, stuck uncharacteristically close to his prepared remarks for the first few minutes of his speech. But his demeanor, and the mood of the crowd, changed considerably when he revealed that, shortly after he visited the gravely wounded Giffords at University Medical Center, "she opened her eyes for the first time."
"She opened her eyes," he said. "She knows we're here and she knows we love her."
The McKale Memorial Center crowd, estimated at 13,172, erupted in cheers as Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, received hugs from first lady Michelle Obama and Napolitano, who flanked him in the front row.
Obama's voice also seemed to waver slightly at mentions of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl killed in the rampage north of Tucson. The president's younger daughter, Sasha, was born just three months before Christina.
"She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model," Obama said of Christina. "She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted."
The memorial service aired on television and radio nationwide and came amid an increasingly shrill debate over the shootings and whether the gunman was motivated by violent imagery or harsh political language. Many people were watching Obama to see how he would react to the rancor.
He urged calm and reflection and urged Americans not to "use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other."
Those were the right words, according to longtime Arizona political scientist Bruce Merrill, who called the speech powerful.
"The question is when the sun comes up the next morning, is it back to politics as usual?" said Merrill, an Arizona State University professor emeritus. "Given the harsh realities of the world we live in, in the long run I doubt that it would have much of a long-lasting kind of an effect. I wish it would, but I would be surprised if it does."
The speech was well-received in Tucson, where the event seemed to electrify the community and the UA campus. People stood in line all day Wednesday - a few showed up Tuesday night - and by late afternoon, university officials decided to show the service on the jumbo screens at nearby Arizona Stadium, where an overflow crowd of 13,000 gathered.
Security was understandably tight, with metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs and police, a sharp contrast to the informal gathering that left Giffords exposed to the deadly rampage outside a Safeway store on Saturday.
Inside the arena, a who's who of politics gathered in the front rows: the president and first lady, Brewer, Napolitano, Holder, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, former Supreme Court Justice and Arizonan Sandra Day O'Connor, Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain, and almost all of the state's congressional delegation.
Seated among them - between Obama and O'Connor - was UA junior Daniel Hernandez, the intern who is credited with saving Giffords' life when he ministered to her at the shooting scene. He insisted he was not a hero, that others deserved the accolade more, but Obama in his speech told Hernandez his acts reflected the courage of a hero.
Hernandez received several standing ovations during the service.
A solemn Brewer praised Hernandez and spoke of the losses suffered by Arizonans in the shooting. But she said the state would be unbowed as it dealt with those losses.
"Arizona is united in a mission of recovery," she said. "This state, bound together by prayer and action, hope and faith, will not be shredded by one madman's act of darkness."
Obama used much of his speech to talk about the victims, those who died, those who survived and those who reacted to protect others.
"These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle," he said. "They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, all around us just waiting to be summoned."
But his most pointed remarks were directed at the angry rhetoric that erupted within hours of the shooting.
"At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do, it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds," he said.
Attempts by either side to assign blame for the shootings or to ascribe motive to the gunman will lead to nothing good, he said, but good can come from a healthy discussion.
"Let us remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy - it did not - but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation," he said.
He said Americans should be civil "because we want to live up to the example of public servants like (U.S. District Judge) John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country."
Obama stopped at University Medical Center for about 45 minutes to visit some of the victims of the shooting. He spent almost 10 minutes with Giffords and Kelly, shortly before she opened her eyes for the first time.
That news drew applause and tears at the service and lent Obama's speech a new layer of emotion, which grew as he talked about the other victims. He returned near the end to young Christina, whose story has captured the nation.
"I want to live up to her expectations," he said. "I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. All of us, we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."
Odelia Celaya, 64, of Tucson, who brought her 14-year-old granddaughter to the ceremony, said she walked into the stadium feeling angry about the shooting. But she said the president's speech eased her angst.
"He changed the way we were thinking," she said. "There was a lot of hatred and he made us realize that is not the way to be."
Republic reporters Dan Nowicki, Ronald J. Hansen and Richard Ruelas contributed to this story.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Woman recalls traffic stop by fake cop in drag
Police say man has been pulling drivers over in North Baltimore
The Baltimore Sun
9:06 p.m. EST
January 12, 2011
When the man dressed in a wig and Harry Potter glasses with caked-on makeup and lipstick pulled her over and said he was a police officer, Erin Hartz thought she was an unwitting participant in the next John Waters movie.
"This would only happen in Baltimore," the 23-year-old recalls thinking.
The man flicked on a flashlight and shined it in her eyes, scanned her license and registration, then told her not to speed. "Get home and drive safe."
She breathed a sigh of relief that he had let her off with only a warning.
And then the absurdity of the situation washed over her.
Police say the man impersonating an officer has been pulling people over in the area in recent weeks, most recently on Sunday when he made off with a woman's driver's license after stopping her in North Baltimore.
Hartz was pulled over Dec. 17 while driving on Falls Road near Hampden. A sedan that had been idling beneath the 28th Street overpass began tailing her, then pulled alongside on the opposite lane, nearly running her off the road, as the driver activated a blue dashboard light. She pulled over near the Streetcar Museum.
Watching from a side mirror, she said he approached her vehicle in what can only be described as a "prance, a flamboyant shimmy." He was tall, lanky, wearing a fake-looking ginger bob-style wig, an oversize police hat and blue-pleated pants that "poofed" at the hips. He was white and probably in his 40s.
A lanyard with a picture ID hung around his neck, and he was wearing white gloves. The man told Hartz she had been speeding, then walked away. Hartz said it occurred to her that he hadn't said what the speed limit was, and she yelled to him to ask. He said 25 (it's actually 30 mph on Falls Road) and drove away.
Hartz, a West Virginia native who works for an arts marketing firm, said she had never been pulled over before and was stunned.
As for the fact that she was pulled over by a man in drag, she thought it might be plausible that police had a transsexual officer on the force.
Only later, as she got closer to home, did she realize that the traffic stop probably wasn't legitimate.
Or, as she later put it: "I'm an idiot."
Such an operation would not be unprecedented. In 2006, a male officer in West Palm Beach, Fla., dressed in drag to hand out red-light tickets. He went by the name of "Officer Delicious" and would stand on the corner in fishnets and high heels watching for cars running through traffic lights. Then he would radio the vehicle description to uniformed motorcycle units.
In an hour and a half, he and a partner (dressed as a homeless man) handed out 77 tickets for $180 each, according to news reports.
Hartz called 911, and police sent an officer to her home. He didn't take a report because he said the fake officer technically hadn't done anything illegal, she says she was told, and the real officer told her to call the Northern District to pass along the information.
The dispatcher had trouble understanding her description of where the stop took place, then said she "didn't know what initiatives were going on" in that area.
"I asked, 'How many initiatives involve cops dressed in drag?'" Hartz said.
After city police publicized the female/police impersonator Tuesday, Hartz called the number given for Northern District detectives. She said she was going to help police draw a sketch of the suspect Thursday. In his most recent fake traffic stop, police say, the man was wearing knee-high boots, a shoulder-length black wig, and a dark jacket with a patch on the shoulder. He drives a blue or green Oldsmobile Alero.
Looking back, Hartz knows the situation could have been far worse — she had been pulled over in a dark, isolated area by someone pretending to be an officer.
"It was a good learning experience," she said.
Obama is riding a wave of popularity
A pair of new polls are giving Obama his highest approval ratings in months.
A Reuters/Ipsos survey gives Obama a 50% approval rating, up from 45% a month ago, and his highest rating in this poll since June.
The president "is getting a bump in his approval ratings from an improving economy but Americans want him to focus on reducing debt and spending," Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, an Associated Press-GfK poll gives Obama a 53% approval rating, "his best numbers since the divisive health care vote 10 months ago."
The AP reports that "Americans give higher marks to President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans after a holiday season of compromise paid dividends for both."
Obama's end-of-the-year roll in 2010 included a tax cut deal with Republicans, as well as an end to the military's ban on gays and new health care benefits for 9/11 responders.
Adds the AP:
And, compared with just after the November elections, more now express confidence that Obama and the new Republican-controlled House can work together to solve the country's most urgent problems, chief among them the struggling economy.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 10:10 PM
500 fired as MySpace restructures
MySpace is cutting 47 percent of its staff amid reports that owner News Corp. is preparing the social-networking website for a ...
Andy Fixmer and Sarah Rabil
MySpace is cutting 47 percent of its staff amid reports that owner News Corp. is preparing the social-networking website for a possible sale.
MySpace is firing about 500 employees in a broad restructuring across all of its operations, according to an e-mailed statement from the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based website Tuesday. MySpace will enter into local partnerships in the U.K., Germany and Australia to manage advertising and content.
Chief Executive Officer Mike Jones, charged with paring losses and rejuvenating business at MySpace, has retooled the site to focus on helping users discover music and videos, rather than connect with each other. Last month the site renewed an advertising pact with Google, adding display advertising, after revenue fell short of News Corp. projections.
"Today's tough but necessary changes were taken in order to provide the company with a clear path for sustained growth and profitability," Jones said in the statement. "These changes were purely driven by issues related to our legacy business, and in no way reflect the performance of the new product."
After the restructuring, MySpace will be put up for sale, All Things D, a website owned by New York-based News Corp., reported Monday. The business will be offered to private-equity firms and possibly to Yahoo, the website said.
Rosabel Tao, a spokeswoman for MySpace, said in an e-mail that Jones declined to comment beyond the release. Dana Lengkeek, a spokeswoman for Yahoo, said the company doesn't comment on rumor or speculation.
MySpace has seen an uptick in new and returning users since the redesign, Jones said in the statement. More than 3.3 million new profiles have been created, and mobile users rose 4 percent between November and December to more than 22 million, he said.
News Corp. will most likely shutter MySpace by June "unless we see a remarkable turnaround in the next few months," Alan Gould, an analyst with Evercore Partners, said in a research note to clients Tuesday before the restructuring was announced.
Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace, may lose $225 million this fiscal year, up from an estimated $180 million last year, Gould said. He reduced his estimate for News Corp.'s fiscal 2011 operating income by 5 percent because of MySpace's losses and weaker film results.
Chase Carey, News Corp.'s chief operating officer, said on a November conference call that MySpace's losses "are not acceptable or sustainable." He set a goal for the site to be cash positive in June, the end of News Corp.'s fiscal year.
MySpace lost less than $100 million in the fiscal year ended in June, a spokesperson for the website told Bloomberg in October.
In a previous round of cuts in June 2009, MySpace reduced staffing by about 30 percent after advertising sales fell and social-networking rival Facebook surpassed the site in U.S. users.
MySpace unveiled a new look in October aimed at winning back younger users uninterested in staying on the same social network as their parents.
There were similar attempts to revamp MySpace in 2008 when News Corp.'s digital operations missed the goal of $1 billion in revenue, leading the company to reorganize operations and raising questions from analysts about the unit's prospects.
News Corp. bought MySpace in October 2005 for $580 million and less than a year later signed a three-year, $900 million search and advertising agreement with Google.
The deal expired in June and was extended until the two sides reached a new agreement in December, without disclosing upfront and guaranteed payments as in the previous arrangement.
7:26 a.m. Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Limbaugh, Arizona sheriff feud over comments
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A war of words has erupted between radio commentator Rush Limbaugh and the sheriff investigating the Tucson shooting spree that killed six and wounded 14, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Associated Press Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (left) told ABC News that conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh (right) is "irresponsible" in the rhetoric he uses against elected officials. Limbaugh said Dupnik "made a fool of himself" for making a connection between rhetoric and the Arizona killings.
The kind of rhetoric that flows from Rush Limbaugh, in my judgment he is irresponsible, uses partial information, sometimes wrong information," Dupnik said in the interview. "[Limbaugh] attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials and that kind of behavior in my opinion is not without consequences."
Dupnik added that "the vitriol affects the [unstable] personality that we are talking about. You can say, ‘Oh, no it doesn't,' but my opinion is that it does."
Limbaugh railed against Democrats who would draw a link between the shooting and political rhetoric, and the conservative talk show host said Dupnik "made a fool of himself" for making that same connection.
"Don't kid yourself," Limbaugh said. "What this is all about is shutting down any and all political opposition and eventually criminalizing it."
Investigators have not said what motivated the assassination attempt by the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. Loughner is accused of opening fire Saturday at Giffords' political event outside a Tuscon grocery store. Giffords, shot in the back of the head, remains in critical condition.
Six people were killed, including a federal judge, a congressional aide and a 9-year-old girl.
Snow helps police catch liquor store burglary suspects
The overnight snowstorm helped police in Dalton catch two teenagers suspected in a smash-and-grab burglary of a northwest Georgia liquor store.
According to Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier, officers responding to a 4 a.m. alarm call at Cox’s Liquor Store on East Walnut Avenue found the front door glass broken out, and footprints in the snow leading to a gap in the tree line behind the store.
Officers followed the footprints to an apartment in a nearby complex and when they knocked on the door, they found Sebastian Love, 19, with a backpack containing five bottles of liquor matching those missing from the store, Frazier said.
Love and another teen, 19-year-old Adrian Lynn Estrada, were arrested and charged with burglary, theft by taking and criminal damage to property.
Sales In Glock Pistols After Arizona Shootings
First Posted: 01/11/11 03:33 PM Updated: 01/11/11 04:18 PM
Hey, everyone. Not to unnerve you, but apparently, days after a madman went on a murdery rampage with a Glock in Arizona, Arizonans are heading to gun stores in droves to purchase the very same weapon used by Jared Lee Loughner. It's as good an example as anything to demonstrate that there really is no such thing as bad publicity, only an inplacable, gnawing cynicism that permeates our existence and sends us, sobbing, into a fetal position.
Michael Riley from Bloomberg News documents how we at last have stimulated some aggregate demand in something!
After a Glock-wielding gunman killed six people at a Tucson shopping center on Jan. 8, Greg Wolff, the owner of two Arizona gun shops, told his manager to get ready for a stampede of new customers.
Wolff was right. Instead of hurting sales, the massacre had the $499 semi-automatic pistols -- popular with police, sport shooters and gangsters -- flying out the doors of his Glockmeister stores in Mesa and Phoenix.
"We're at double our volume over what we usually do," Wolff said two days after the shooting spree that also left 14 wounded, including Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition.
Of course, this is nothing new, nor is it a localized oddity:
One-day sales of handguns in Arizona jumped 60 percent on Jan. 10 compared with the corresponding Monday a year ago, the second-biggest increase of any state in the country, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data. From a year earlier, handgun sales ticked up yesterday 65 percent in Ohio, 16 percent in California, 38 percent in Illinois and 33 percent in New York, the FBI data show, and increased nationally about 5 percent.
Federally tracked gun sales, which are drawn from sales in gun stores that require a federal background check, also jumped following the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, in which 32 people were killed.
No corresponding data detailing how sales of DEMON WEED are proceeding in the wake of this weekend's tragedy, but one has to imagine that they're up, if only because so many people maybe want to dull the pain that comes when you realize that you are surrounded by gun-crazy maniacs.
10:42 AM PST, January 9, 2011
The Westboro Baptist Church will picket the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Greene, one of the victims of Saturday's massacre at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' event in Tucson, Arizona.
According to their website, the group plans to attend the funerals of all the victims, using the tragedy to bring attention to their radical anti-American agenda.
The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church was established in 1955 and claim to "preach against all form of sin." They protest daily against homosexuality on street corners and attend funerals of dead soldiers with signs saying "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." They believe homosexuality is destroying America and picket at military funerals because they believe troops represent an evil nation.
Today, the self-proclaimed "church" posted this statement on their website:
(NOTE: This statement is republished as-is from the group's website.)
DAY #2 OF “THANK GOD FOR THE SHOOTER” – 6 DEAD! WBC WILL PICKET THEIR FUNERALS.
The 9-year-old girl was born 9/11/01! “Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it,” Mic. 6:9. God mercifully gave this nation a fair warning on 9/11 – but you despise His mercies, so you get no more mercy – man, woman or child. That’s how God the Avenger rolls!
That child was not innocent. This is a nation of depraved perverts who pass their children through the fire of their rage against God & all-consuming lust. From the womb, she was taught to hate God & mock His servants. That child is better off dead, so the cup of her iniquity will not overflow! Rep. Giffords passed laws trying to keep WBC watchers off the street corners. In repayment, God sent the shooter when she took to a street corner! The blood of the 9-year-old is on Rep. Giffords’ hands! This nation rejoiced & your officials were ho-hum when a violent veteran stalked 5 WBC picketers with 90 rounds of ammunition. In repayment, God sent the shooter with 90 rounds of ammunition & killed your federal judge, your child, & others. Now let’s see if you’re so ho-hum in the face of God’s wrath! The blood of these six dead is on your hands rebellious doomed-america! God’s judgments are so righteous & marvelous in our sight!
THANK GOD FOR HIS RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS!
So far, there has been no formal response from Congresswoman Giffords' office. Many mainstream groups refuse to respond or even acknowledge the writings of this hate group, while other groups have staged counter-protests, drowning out the hatespeech with support for victims.
Cash-stuffed envelope remains a mystery
Bernadine Kudia finally received her promised $600 refund -- and an apology for the delay -- from Joseph Painting Service. (Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / January 11, 2011)
Despite continued efforts, the Dowdle family still has not found the true owners of more than $1,000 found on a sidewalk in SkokieJanuary 11, 2011
Who knew it would be this hard to reunite an elderly couple with their lost cash?
But three weeks after Shannon Dowdle found an envelope stuffed with more than $1,000 in fresh bills, the owners of the money remain a mystery.
The Problem Solver wrote about the situation on Thursday, hoping the couple — or someone who knows them — would come forward.
So far, no one has.
"It's like a great novel and you want to know the ending," said Rick Dowdle, Shannon's husband. "I'm frustrated.
The lack of a conclusion is not for lack of effort.
After Shannon Dowdle found the envelope on a Skokie sidewalk Dec. 21, she and her Glenview family made it their mission to find the rightful owners.
The family has visited police, mall security and several stores near where the money was found. Their only clue about the owners came from a manager at a nearby Ulta store, who said an elderly couple came in Dec. 23 to ask if anyone found the envelope.
The manager said the couple would not give their names.
In the wake of Thursday's column, the Dowdles appeared on several television stations, and their story has been retold on various radio shows.
The Problem Solver has received about a half-dozen e-mails and calls from readers hoping the money was theirs. None of the inquiries panned out.
On Friday, Richard Dowdle contacted a spokesman for the bank whose logo is on the envelope. Since then, the bank has run several computer programs trying to match the money to people who withdrew similar amounts of cash.
The bank found two possible matches, but one has already been ruled out. The bank is still waiting to hear back from the second couple.
The Dowdle family remains optimistic the elderly couple will turn up. Rick Dowdle said it's possible the couple was from out of town or has since left town for the winter. Either way, he's hoping word will eventually reach them.
If it doesn't, the family is prepared to donate the money to charity.
Even if the couple surfaces after the donation is made, the Dowdles will return the cash.
"I'd go replace it," Rick Dowdle said. "I donate money to charity anyway."
The Problem Solver will continue to provide updates as warranted.
If the money is yours, or you know who lost it, call the Tribune's city desk at 312-222-3650.
The Problem Solver knows the exact amount that was lost, the denominations of the bills and the name of the bank on the envelope, so please do not respond unless the money is truly yours.
LINK TO ORIGINAL STORY:
|Updated: 1:43 PM Jan 9, 2011
Man Pays for Stolen Car with Meth
A man caught with a stolen car told police he bought the vehicle from a woman using meth as payment.12:37 PM Jan 9, 2011
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- A man caught with a stolen car told police he bought the vehicle from a woman using meth as payment.
West Virginia State Police out of South Charleston tells WSAZ.com Jerry Wayne Means was driving down I-77 around 11:20 Saturday night.
The Oldsmobile Intrigue Means was driving came up stolen on a trooper's mobile plate hunter.
Means was pulled over and arrested near Oakridge Apartments on US-119.
While in police custody, Means admitted he rented the car from a woman and used $50 bags of meth as payment. Means later told police he bought the car for two grams of meth.
Means was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, delivery of methamphetamine and not having an operational drivers
In lieu of an arraignment, Means was taken to South Central Regional Jail.
January 9, 2011
It Doesn’t Matter Why He Did It
Judging from his Internet postings, Jared Lee Loughner is a delusional young man whose inner political landscape is a swamp of dystopian novels, left- and right-wing tracts, conspiracy theories, and contempt for his fellow human beings. He refers to the gold and silver standard; that doesn't make Ron Paul responsible for the shootings. He is fond of “Animal Farm”; George Orwell didn't guide the hand that pulled the automatic pistol's trigger. Marx and Hitler produced a lot of corpses, but not the ones in Tucson.
But the plate-glass window of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s office was shattered last March after the final health-care vote. Judge John Roll, who was among the dead, had received death threats and spent a month with a protection detail. Roll was apparently a bystander to Loughner’s intended target—and maybe the gunman had no idea why he was aiming for Giffords either, maybe he didn't know how she voted on health care or what her position on Arizona’s draconian immigration law was. It would be a kind of relief if Loughner operated not out of any coherent political context but just his own fevered brain.
But even so, the tragedy wouldn't change this basic fact: for the past two years, many conservative leaders, activists, and media figures have made a habit of trying to delegitimize their political opponents. Not just arguing against their opponents, but doing everything possible to turn them into enemies of the country and cast them out beyond the pale. Instead of “soft on defense,” one routinely hears the words “treason” and “traitor.” The President isn't a big-government liberal—he's a socialist who wants to impose tyranny. He's also, according to a minority of Republicans, including elected officials, an impostor. Even the reading of the Constitution on the first day of the 112th Congress was conceived as an assault on the legitimacy of the Democratic Administration and Congress.
This relentlessly hostile rhetoric has become standard issue on the right. (On the left it appears in anonymous comment threads, not congressional speeches and national T.V. programs.) And it has gone almost entirely uncriticized by Republican leaders. Partisan media encourages it, while the mainstream media finds it titillating and airs it, often without comment, so that the gradual effect is to desensitize even people to whom the rhetoric is repellent. We’ve all grown so used to it over the past couple of years that it took the shock of an assassination attempt to show us the ugliness to which our politics has sunk.
The massacre in Tucson is, in a sense, irrelevant to the important point. Whatever drove Jared Lee Loughner, America's political frequencies are full of violent static.
Robber beaten by customer with pickle jar at Milwaukee store now charged
Travanti Schmidt has a criminal record
3:35 PM CST, January 7, 2011
Travanti Schmidt is now charged in three counts of armed robbery and felon in possession of a firearm. Schmidt is the man who got beaten by a store customer with a pickle jar when he tried to rob the L&A Foods on Milwaukee's north side.
Police say Schmidt suspect entered L&A Foods near 26th and Vliet Tuesday afternoon and fired a shot from a gun. His intention was to rob the place.
However, customers in the store attacked the gunman. One of the customers struck the suspect in the head with a jar of pickles. They held the suspect until police arrived.
Schmidt is also charged with robberies that took place near 23rd and Wisconsin and 27th and Vliet.
LINK TO VIDEO:
President Barack Obama’s search for a new press secretary is likely to include a redefinition of the job itself, with a focus on stopping leaks, streamlining messaging — and, most of all, cutting the testosterone level in the briefing room.
The administration isn’t necessarily looking for a female press secretary, aides say, but the White House is clearly looking to shed a bit of its boy’s club reputation.
Obama’s team is looking to soften the tone of the administration after two years of press secretary Robert Gibbs – an Alpha Male who split his time advising Obama and dueling with the “professional left,” print reporters who griped about his failure to return their calls, and the TV correspondents whom he often compared on camera to his seven-year-old son.
At the same time, Obama’s team is looking to, in effect, downgrade a position that had grown into a West Wing power center under Gibbs, one of the few modern press secretaries to move beyond the role of messenger to wield genuine power in the Oval Office.
“I think you’re going to find somebody who’s in fewer meetings in which they also play an advisory role,” said a senior administration official. “But I still think this person will be of significant stature.”
The problem with replacing Gibbs is finding someone without his weaknesses — he was regarded as disorganized, distractible and combative — yet possesses his unique virtues – an agile mind, quick tongue and uncanny ability to express Obama’s views with the confidence of a man in all the meetings.
“I’m generally in favor of lowering the temperature in the [briefing] room,” said former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry, who has counseled Gibbs from time to time. “You don’t have to win every argument. It’s a place where you have to get your information across and develop long-term relationships… But it’s also so different than it was 15 years ago when I was doing it. It’s much less about substance and so much more about the daily battle on TV.”
Gibbs had tried to find a new role for himself in the White House, several sources told POLITICO, but was unable to agree to an arrangement that he and Obama found mutually acceptable. He didn’t work out the final details of his departure – including arrangements on the role he would play on Obama’s reelection campaign — until this week.
The search for a replacement was briefly put on hold out of respect for Gibbs, but now the wheels are whirring.
Incoming deputy chief of staff David Plouffe – a power even before he arrives in the White House on Monday – is leading a search team that also includes communications director Dan Pfeiffer. Plouffe, the high priest of Obama’s 2008 no-drama ethos has reportedly been incensed by what he believes to be an unacceptable number of leaks.
He’s also thrown open the post-Gibbs selection process, instructing communications staffers to look beyond a pair well-regarded administration insiders, deputy press secretary Bill Burton and Jay Carney, Vice President Joe Biden's spokesman.
Gibbs plans to stay at least several more weeks. Plouffe and Pfeiffer, for their part, are in no rush to choose a replacement, aides say, and Bill Daley, the newly anointed White House chief of staff, has made it clear he wants to weigh in on the hire, which he considers to be a significant part of his portfolio.
“Bill’s a nice guy, but he realizes that this is one of his first tests,” said a longtime Daley friend. “He’s not going to let this decision take place without some serious input.”
And Obama staffers have repeatedly asked Stephanie Cutter, a special assistant to the president who served as John Kerry’s spokeswoman during the 2004 campaign, to throw her name into the hat, but so far she’s demurred, according to administration insiders.
The first stage of the search is likely to include a blue sky canvass of any reasonable candidate – even some high-profile women TV or radio correspondents, sources say.
But administration officials say they won’t be limited by gender – and that ultimately Obama and Daley will make the final decision, based on a candidate’s gravitas, relationship with reporters, and chemistry with Obama.
“I have a feeling that it will come right back to Bill and Jay,” said a person close to the process. “It almost always comes back to the people in your comfort zone in the first place.”
There are several other male candidates that are likely to get a serious look, including deputy press secretary Josh Earnest, current DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse and a pair of agency flacks – Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell and P.J. Crowley, who delivers the daily briefing at the State Department.
Neither Morrell or Crowley is considered a front-line candidate, but they do have an advantage over the others: They are so steeped in their policy areas they will add an element of gravitas to the briefing room – to contrast the increasingly partisan tone of powerhouse partisan surrogates outside the White House like Gibbs and soon-to-depart senior adviser David Axelrod.
“The next White House press secretary needs to clearly grasp the difference between a campaign and government, to understand that from the first moment they stop up to the briefing room podium, because there’s a huge difference from when you are speaking as a candidate and when you are speaking as the president of the United States,” said Ed Chen, a former Bloomberg reporter who served as president of the White House Correspondents Association.
And that is something, Chen added, that the Obama White House has been slow to understand.
“Not just the press secretary, but the entire White House press staff was in this very combative campaign mindset and failed to recognize the difference between governing and campaigning,” said Chen, now federal communications director with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Despite all the protests, Gibbs rarely changed his M.O., engaging in a dialogue – a soliloquy – with a few reporters, whether it’s [NBC’s] Chuck Todd or [ABC’s] Jake Tapper or a print reporter.”
Administration officials say they intend to showcase women officials no matter who replaces Gibbs – and that the absence of Gibbs and Axelrod opens the path for rising female stars in the administration like Psaki, Cutter, and health care guru Nancy Ann DeParle.
“The role of the press secretary who is put out there to be not just the mouthpiece, but the negotiator to the press… That sort of position isn’t normally thought of as female,” said Jessica Coen, editor of Jezebel, a feminist web site focused on women in politics and the media.
“Women aren’t typically thought of as someone who could go out there and have everything thrown at them and do it with a smile. It’s important to have a woman come out there and say, I can play this game too, because it’s a co-ed game.”
Daughter, mom held in 2 robberies
Arizona Daily Star
Saturday, January 8, 2011 12:00 am
A 71-year-old woman and her daughter were arrested Friday on suspicion of robbing two banks last summer, Tucson police said.
Evelyn L. Ward and Bonnie Jane Jasmer, 47, are each facing one count of robbery and one count of armed robbery, and two counts each of aggravated robbery, according to a Tucson police news release.
Police said Jasmer was the driver of the car used in both robberies.
Ward and Jasmer were connected to a robbery at a Tucson Federal Credit Union office on Aug. 28 and another incident at a Bank of the West branch in July.
In the robbery at the Tucson Federal Credit Union office at 3755 S. Mission Road, a woman entered the bank and gave a note to the teller, police said.
A handgun was used in the robbery of the Bank of the West, 3041 S. Kinney Road, on July 21. That case was investigated by the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
The two were booked into the Pima County jail.
Man held in third robbery
Also on Friday, police made an arrest in another bank robbery.
Benjamin B. Kramer, 37, who has a general-delivery address, is facing charges of robbing the Bank of America branch at 5502 E. Grant Road on Thursday.
Detectives learned the man showed a note and implied that he had a weapon.
He left the bank and ran east through the parking lot and into the Alamo Wash.
Police officers arrested Kramer after they contacted him on an unrelated matter.
|Updated: 11:38 PM Jan 6, 2011
Child support fraud reported
Jan. 7, 2010
Regina Thompson is accused of using another woman’s child to obtain support money.Terry Lewis
ALBANY, Ga. — Dougherty County Sheriff’s officials said Thursday that Regina Thompson of Moultrie, 38, has been arrested and charged on five counts of theft by deception in an elaborate scam after convincing a man to pay support for a child belonging to a friend of hers.
According to sheriff’s office Chief Investigator Capt. Craig Dodd, Thompson used the child of a friend, Lastraga McCloud, also of Moultrie, to convince Joseph Golden of Albany the baby girl was his in order to get him to pay child support.
“I’ve been in this business for 24 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Dodd said. “Ms. Thompson was keeping her friend’s child during the week while the mother was going to school out of town. She (Thompson) approached Golden, an ex-boyfriend, with pictures of the child and deceived him into thinking the baby was his.”
Dodd said the ex-boyfriend doled out more than $1,600 in five payments over the next two years even though he was under no legal obligation to do so.
“He was convinced that the little girl was his. They had pictures made at her birthday party and everything,” Dodd said. “The real mother in Moultrie had no clue what was going on.”
Dodd said Thompson, who was the child’s godmother, would take the child to Albany during the week for “visitation” with Golden then return the baby to its mother when she returned to Moultrie from school for the weekends.
Dodd said the scheme began to unravel as the girl, now five, began to talk more and told Golden he wasn’t her father. That’s when the visits stopped and Golden went to court in order to secure visitation rights.
But when Thompson took the stand during the hearing, she denied the child existed, Dodd said. The sheriff’s office then asked local television stations to publicize pictures of the baby in an effort to identify the child.
Within days, Dodd said his office received e-mails and phone calls identifying the baby as McCloud’s child. The calls included a call from the maternal grandmother.
“The mother was aghast after she found out what was going on,” Dodd said. “She had no clue that her friend was using her child in this manner.”
Thompson was arrested and released on bail. Dodd added in addition to the five felony charges, that Thompson would likely also be facing a grand jury indictment for perjury.
Calls to Golden were unsuccessful because his listed number had been disconnected.
POLICE: Drunk burglar calls 911, says he's stuck in house
TERRI SANGINITI • The News Journal • January 6, 2011
It’s not often that a burglar calls 911 to report that he broke into a house, but that’s exactly what happened Wednesday afternoon when a homeless man could not get out of a house he had allegedly burglarized, police said.
New Castle County police and firefighters from Brandywine Hundred Fire Company were sent to a Bellefonte home about 2:30 p.m. to check on the welfare of a man who had called 911 asking for help, said agency spokesman Officer John Weglarz Sr.
Arriving officers talked to a man through an open rear window – the same window that he broke to get into the house, Weglarz said.
An investigation revealed that the man, identified as 44-year-old John Finch, did not live there, but had been stuck inside the home in the 800 block of Woodsdale Road for a few days and couldn’t get out.
During his stay, the homeless man said he had consumed three bottles of Seagrams gin and two bottles of Seagrams whiskey.
But in his inebriated state, he was not able to climb back out the window, Weglarz said.
He also was unable to unlock the main doors because they were bolted from both sides.
The elderly occupant had not been home for a few days.
Rescue workers were able free him and he was promptly arrested, Weglarz said.
He said there was an outstanding warrant for Finch’s arrest on burglary and felony theft charges because he had allegedly broke into the same home in April.
Finch was linked to the first break-in through fingerprints left at the scene.
Finch was charged with two counts each of second-degree burglary and felony theft for the two burglaries.
Bail information was not immediately available.
Six girls arrested in online threats
Middle school students post
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Six middle school girls were arrested Wednesday afternoon after the group allegedly participated in a Facebook event called “Attack a Teacher Day.”
Carson City Sheriff's Deputy Jessica Rivera, the district's school resource officer, said five of the girls are students at Carson Middle School and one at Eagle Valley.
The page came to light Wednesday morning after the invitation went out to 79 students. A parent saw the content, said Rivera.
The six girls arrested allegedly posted threats on the page aimed at specific teachers using wording like, “I'm attacking (teacher's name),” and “Down with (teacher's name).”
According to the Facebook posting, the “attack,” which was never defined, was to take place Friday between the hours of 7-9 a.m. at Carson Middle School and Eagle Valley Middle School.
“Facebook has become quite the trend and quite the place to harass people and to threaten people and it needs to be understood by the public and students that this is a serious matter and we're not taking it lightly,” said Rivera.
The students were confronted by school deans and ultimately arrested and taken to juvenile detention on suspicion of threats. They were released to their parents Wednesday afternoon.
Rivera said they will receive a date to appear before the juvenile magistrate.
“All of the girls said it was just a joke, ‘We didn't mean anything by it,' and in one aspect you can think these are just kids making a joke. But on the other side, why would you take the time to accept the invitation, and then comment on the wall? Why would you take that much time to create the invitation and send it out to all of your friends?” said Rivera. “It's not appropriate for kids to be doing this.”
Carson City School Superintendent Richard Stokes said five of the students each received a three-day suspension, and one student received a five-day suspension.
“The schools have also contacted other students who were invited and the parents and let them know the gravity of the situation,” said Stokes. “We'd like all our parents to be aware of what their students are doing online. Just be aware and pay attention to what's going on in your student's life with these electronic opportunities.“
LINK TO FACEBOOK POST:
Obama mouthpiece Robert Gibbs was forced out by new henchman William Daley
Toby Harnden World
January 7th, 2011
I wondered yesterday whether Robert Gibbs jumped or was pushed and noted that President Barack Obama’s words indicated that it was “not an entirely voluntary departure”.
It’s being reported by John King on CNN right now that Gibbs wanted to be a presidential counsellor – something he’s been putting about for quite a while – but William Daley, the new chief of staff, nixed this because he believed that too many cooks would spoil the presidential broth. So that’s why Gibbs is out.
Additionally, King reports that Valerie Jarrett, whose sole qualification to being a senior counsellor seems to be that she’s a long-time Chicago buddy of Barack and Michelle Obama, will have her wings clipped. Daley, not Jarrett, will be the person speaking to the business community.
It’s no secret that Rahm Emanuel, a Daley protege, clashed with Jarrett. Or that David Plouffe, about to join the White House, was often at odds with her when he was the 2008 Obama campaign manager. Obama is nothing if not ruthless. He dropped Jane Dystel, the agent who approached him to write “Dreams from my Father”, and has previously cut loose long-time advisers. One aide described him as “the most unsentimental man I’ve ever met”.
So the next question is: with Gibbs and David Axelrod gone, how much longer will Valerie Jarrett last?
WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE AND VIOLENCE
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has a message for his critics: 'They can line up and kiss my a**'Ralph Vacchiano
Originally Published:Thursday, January 6th 2011, 10:26 AM
Updated: Thursday, January 6th 2011, 10:48 PM
Theodorakis/NewsNew York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin walks off the field after beating the Redskins to cap a 10-6 season Sunday.
When the Giants' season was over, Tom Coughlin insisted that even though his team didn't make the playoffs, his players should be happy with a 10-win year.
And for those people who aren't satisfied with that? Coughlin had a message for them, too.
In a postgame speech aimed directly at the heart - or at least the lips - of his critics, Coughlin told his players that anyone not impressed with a 10-6 season "can line up and kiss my a--." He delivered those remarks in the visitors' locker room at FedEx Field on Sunday just after the Giants beat the Washington Redskins, 17-14.
"Outstanding. Outstanding finish to the ballgame," Coughlin said in the speech, which was captured by cameras and aired on Showtime's "Inside the NFL." "We did our part, OK? That's all I can ask you to do. Hey, from the bottom of my heart and everybody's, we have a 10-6 season. A 10-win season in the NFL, OK? They can kiss my a--, OK? They can line up and kiss my a--. It's not an easy thing to do."
An unidentified player then yelled, "Can we quote you on that, Coach?"
"You can quote me on a lot more than that," Coughlin responded. "The priest is here or I'd say a few more things."
FEWELL HEATING UP
Perry Fewell, the Giants defensive coordinator, interviewed with Carolina Panthers officials Wednesday about their vacant head coaching job. It's the first of four interviews Fewell is expected to have in the coming weeks.
Fewell, according to an NFL source, met with Panthers GM Marty Hurney and team president Danny Morrison somewhere in the New York area. He is also scheduled to meet with Denver Broncos officials on Sunday to discuss their head coaching vacancy.
The Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers have also requested permission to interview Fewell, though it's not known if he's accepted or scheduled the meetings yet.
LINK TO VIDEO CONTAINS STRONG GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
Helen Thomas returns to journalism
Thu Jan 6, 10:55 am ET
After a seven-month retirement, Helen Thomas has a new journalism gig: columnist for the Falls Church News-Press in Virginia, as the ARLnow blog in Arlington, Va., reports.
The 90-year-old retired from Hearst newspapers in June after a media uproar over controversial comments she made about Israel. That move sent shock waves through the press corps and left White House reporters scrambling to see who'd get Thomas' front-row seat in the briefing room.
So why'd the News-Press give her another chance?
Nicholas Benton, the founder, owner and editor of the News-Press, said in an editorial welcoming her back to journalism: "She is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic."
She'll write weekly on political affairs. Her first column on Social Security privatization can be read here.
Tom Burlington, a former anchor, wasl et go in 2007.
Wed, Jan. 5, 2011
Trial set for firing over use of 'n' word
Inquirer Staff Writer
A federal jury will be asked to decide whether it is acceptable for an African American person, but not a white person, to use the "n" word in a workplace.
U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick has ruled that former Fox29 reporter-anchor Tom Burlington's lawsuit against the station, claiming a double standard and alleging that he was the victim of racial discrimination, may go to trial. However, Surrick denied Burlington's claim of a hostile work environment.
Burlington, who is white, was fired after using the "n" word during a June 2007 staff meeting at which reporters and producers were discussing reporter Robin Taylor's story about the symbolic burial of the word by the Philadelphia Youth Council of the NAACP.
Burlington, who began work at the station in 2004 and is now working as a real estate agent, was suspended within days and fired after an account of the incident was published in the Philadelphia Daily News. He alleges that he "was discriminated against because of his race," according to court documents. He claims in his lawsuit that at least two African American employees at Fox29 had used the word in the workplace and were not disciplined.
The dispute began after Taylor, who is white, used the phrase the "n" word during the 2007 staff meeting. She said participants at the burial had said the full word "at least a hundred times or more," according to court records.
"Does this mean we can finally say the word n-?" Burlington asked colleagues, according to depositions.
Nicole Wolfe, a producer and one of the three African American employees among the nine people at the meeting, exclaimed: "I can't believe you just said that!"
Burlington told Taylor that although he did not necessarily expect her to use the word in her story, he thought that doing so gave the story more credence.
Burlington says he used the word only once and approached several attendees after the meeting to explain himself. The Daily News account said he had used the word more than a dozen times.
Surrick, in denying Fox's request to have the suit dismissed, said that federal courts had not determined whether a double standard, if true in this case, would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which deals with equal opportunity in employment.
On the one hand, he wrote in a memorandum Dec. 23, the word is "considered by many to be the most offensive in the English language" and "has been used by whites as a tool to belittle, oppress, or dehumanize African Americans. When viewed in its historical context, one can see how people in general, and African Americans in particular, might react differently when a white person uses the word than if an African American uses it.
"Nevertheless, we are unable to conclude that this is a justifiable reason for permitting the station to draw race-based distinctions between employees."
Surrick wrote that "there is evidence in this case to suggest that at least two African Americans said the word in the workplace with no consequences."
Surrick wrote that a jury would have to decide whether Burlington was a "victim of political correctness run amok" - as Burlington's suit contends - or a victim of "his own poor judgment."
On Dec. 30, Surrick denied Burlington's attempt to prevent Fox from mentioning at trial that after the meeting, he told his former coanchor Joyce Evans that someone had referred to her as a "n- bitch."
Burlington had said he was simply illustrating what he considered to be an unacceptable use of the word, court filings say. Evans was not at the staff meeting.
The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 18.
A Fox spokeswoman on Tuesday said the station disagreed with the judge's decision about the disparate treatment and looked forward to presenting its case to the jury.
UFC Fighter Jacob Volkmann Calls Out President Barack Obama, Gets A Visit From the Secret Service
UFC lightweight Jacob Volkmann, following his UFC 125 win over Antonio McKee, declared that he wanted to fight President Barack Obama for his next fight.
His words got him a visit from the Secret Service on Tuesday.
Volkmann, who is based out of Minnesota, told MMAFighting.com after his win over McKee that he wanted to face Obama because he disagreed with many of his policies.
After defeating McKee, Volkmann was asked who he would like to fight next. Volkmann first requested Clay Guida, then said “Actually, Obama. He’s not too bright … Someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot. I just don’t like what Barack is doing.”
That comment got the government’s attention, as just days later, the Secret Service came to chat with the fighter.
“It happened on Tuesday, I was coaching youth practice, and then two guys came up and one of the other coaches that was helping me out, they said there was a cop and another guy out there waiting for me,” Volkmann told MMAWeekly.com. “I went out there and the guy introduced himself and said he was from the Secret Service and he wanted to ask me some questions about UFC 125 and my quote. He said there were people calling in to D.C. telling them that somebody, me, was threatening the President.”
The Secret Service showed up both at his residence and during a youth wrestling camp he coaches.
The interview is a formality, as the Secret Service investigates all potential threats made against the President, but Wednesday should be the close of the matter for Volkmann.
“This guy had the whole interview on a piece of paper and it had my picture and everything,” said Volkmann. “He was like ‘is this what you said?’ and I said, ‘yes it is.’ He’s like ‘I want to let you know I’m a little embarrassed for coming here and doing this because obviously nothing happened.’ He actually apologized for coming, but he had to come. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to D.C to hurt the President.
The person who contacted Volkmann, according to the fighter, was a member of the election committee that worked for President Obama’s campaign.
Volkmann, who is also a chiropractor, wanted to clarify the statements he made in the original interview as well, because he says that was the reason most people seemed upset with him in the first place.
Volkmann, a chiropractor, says that he was trying to make a point about the health-care law, with which he disagrees. “People were misunderstanding the point of view I was going for with the health care plan. That’s why they were getting so upset. I’m thinking about the provider, I’m a chiropractor, so I’m thinking about my point of view, not everyone getting insurance. They don’t have to worry about getting denied, which is good I guess, just not good for health care providers,” said Volkmann.
Man Abandoned In Courthouse For 18 Hours
January 6, 2011 7:33 AM
GENEVA, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – An Elgin man abandoned overnight in the Kane County courthouse last month is reportedly considering suing the county.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Husan Smith, 32, was supposed to have been taken to the Kane County Jail after his court appearance last month.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bernie Tafoya Reports.
He was supposed to be spending four nights in jail for testing positive for drugs, in violation of his parole for an earlier drug offense.
But a bailiff put Smith in a nearby conference room, and no one remembered he was there until the next day.
Smith had been handcuffed with his hands behind his back. He had no water, no food, and no way to go to a bathroom. His screams went unheard for 18 hours.
On Wednesday, Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon apologized to Smith, and while Smith tells the Chicago Tribune he appreciates the apology, he says he is considering his legal options.
Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez has ordered an investigation.
Fla. man says he'll live in lions' den for 30 days
January 3, 2011 02:39 AM
Spring Hill, Fla. (AP) --
A Florida man says he's going to spend the next month living in a fenced enclosure with two African lions.
James Jablon of Spring Hill hopes the stunt will raise money for his wildlife center, Wildlife Rehabilitation of Hernando.
Jablon entered the lions' den Saturday. He says he's going to sleep on hay near the lions named Lea and Ed and eat when they eat.
He says he's also going to build a place to sleep and hide in the trees in the enclosure, in case the lions fight with each other. His adventure is being streamed live online through January 31.
About 100 animals live at the center about 40 miles north of Tampa. It was started for native wildlife needing medical treatment, but Jablon says he's now being asked to provide homes for exotic pets.
LINK TO LIVE STREAM: http://wrohflorida.com/live-stream-qin-the-denq
School-bus driver admits driving drunk with a busload of kids
Last Modified: Jan 5, 2011 06:01PM
Former Mount Prospect school bus driver Betty Burden admitted Wednesday she was drunk last March when she navigated a nearly seven-mile route to deliver about 45 grade school students to their homes.
Burden, 55, now faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to felony drunken driving charges during a brief hearing in Rolling Meadows.
The veteran driver was charged after police said she failed a field sobriety test, then racked up a .226 blood-alcohol level during a breath test--nearly three times the .08 percent standard for drunk driving.
Burden admitted drinking vodka and orange juice before driving the children home from the Lions Park Elementary School in the northwest suburb, police said following her March 9 arrest.
She was subsequently fired by Mount Prospect District 57, as was her supervisor, who had checked on Burden after getting a report that she might have been drinking, but did not immediately contact police.
Last fall Burden unsuccessfully tried to have the DUI charges dismissed, a ruling that ultimately led to her guilty plea Wednesday.
LINK TO PHOTO:
“Is this what you want to do today, enter a plea of guilty?” Cook County Judge John Scotillo asked Burden during the hearing.
“Yes,” she replied softly.
Burden, who remains free on bond, declined to comment after the hearing.
But defense attorney Ernest Blomquist said he will ask that Burden be placed on probation, noting that she had never been arrested previously and has an outstanding driving record.
“Her background is exemplary. She has an incredible employment history,” Blomquist said.
Prosecutor Maria McCarthy declined to say whether she would seek a prison term for Burden.
Originally published: January 3, 2011 8:59 PM
Updated: January 3, 2011 10:56 PM
DELTHIA RICKS AND PAUL LAROCCO
Hundreds of people who took Holy Communion at two Christmas Day services at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, Nassau County health officials said Monday.
Nassau County Department of Health announced what it's calling potential exposures to the virus during the 10:30 a.m. and noon Masses on Dec. 25, but would not say how many parishioners - if any - may have been infected. The health department declined to say who might have transmitted the pathogen, which is found in the fecal matter of the viral carrier.
"An individual tested positive for hepatitis A who is involved in the Communion process," said Nassau County health department spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain, referring to an unidentified person.
"We feel the transmission [level] is low," she added, saying only a few people were possibly exposed. "And to protect the public from potential illness, those who received Holy Communion on December 25 should receive prophylactic treatment."
Unlike its more virulent cousins - hepatitis B and C - hepatitis A is not as dangerous. "Hepatitis A can make you pretty sick," said Dr. Melissa Palmer, medical director of NYU Hepatology Associates in Plainview. "Most people will get flulike symptoms, diarrhea - on occasion some people will have jaundice. But unlike hepatitis B and C, it does not lead to chronic liver disease."
The health department is offering immune globulin injections or the hepatitis A vaccine to those who attended either of the Masses. Immune globulin contains antibodies that destroy the hepatitis A virus. The vaccine prevents infection.
Roughly 7,500 parishioners belong to Our Lady of Lourdes, a Roman Catholic church, but it wasn't immediately known how many attended the two Christmas Masses or received Holy Communion that day.
"It was probably a full church," said Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He could not provide church capacity.
Calling the investigation ongoing, Dolan said he also could not identify who might have transmitted the virus. Generally speaking, priests are aided at crowded Masses by authorized eucharistic ministers, of which Our Lady of Lourdes has 30, he said.
"We don't want to jump to conclusions," he said. "Obviously, it's very concerning when there's potential exposure to any sort of virus."
Dolan said it's still too early in the diocese's review to speculate on any new hygiene practices. "We're hoping no one comes down with the virus, but we also urge prudence," he said.
Msgr. James Lisante, who is pastor of the parish, could not be reached Monday night. But an outgoing recording at the rectory referred questions to the Health Department. The diocese said on its website: "We pray that no one comes down with this virus."
Palmer said hepatitis A has a "fecal/oral route of transmission." Hepatitis A outbreaks are often associated with food handled by a carrier who has ineffectively washed his or her hands. Palmer said a Communion wafer is as likely a source of infection as would be any other food handled by a person with unclean hands. Treatment with immune globulin, she added, can effectively treat infection.
The DPS Office of the Inspector General investigation said Karen Drysdale-Oriucci, a DPS teacher since 1994, went to American Jewelry and Loan on Greenfield Road on Wednesday to pawn the netbook computer she received from the district on Dec. 17.
Read more: DPS says teacher tried to pawn school laptop | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101230/NEWS01/101230095/DPS-says-teacher-tried-to-pawn-school-laptop#ixzz1A5YceDJW
GettyBabies often grow too chubby because of overfeeding, experts say.
Chubby grownups aren’t the only ones tipping the scales at an unhealthy weight.
Nearly a third of American babies are too fat, according to a new study reported on Msnbc.com. Some 32% of 9 month olds in the study were deemed overweight, and by the age of 2, the number had grown to 34%.
“It definitely raised eyebrows when we saw how early it was showing up,” Wayne State University adjunct professor Brian Moss, author of new research in the American Journal of Health Promotion, told Msnbc.com.
In babies under age 2, overweight is typically defined as a weight in the 85th to 95th percentile, explains Sessions. Babies who are above the 95th percentile are considered obese.
While a 9-month-old chub may not face imminent health problems, if he carries the extra weight into adulthood, he faces a higher risk of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, Sessions explains.
Overweight children also tend to snore more than kids of average weight, she notes, and may have sleep apnea, which can contribute to poor performance in school. "They may also face teasing from their peers," Sessions says.
Parents of chubby babies should look at their own diets, advises Dr. Jessica Sessions, director of pediatrics at the William F. Ryan Community Health Center. “We tend to give our kids what’s on our table,” she says. If the parents have a weight problem, that doesn’t bode well for the baby, she notes. “When both parents or even one is obese, that chubby baby probably is not going to thin out,” she says.
Interestingly, a high birth weight did not predict with accuracy whether a baby would grow up to be overweight or obese, according to the study, which focused on children born in 2001. Some very large babies thin out, but tiny newborns can become overweight, in some cases because parents offer them too much or the wrong kind of food.
Fruit juice is often implicated in the development of overweight babies, experts say. “If your baby is chubby and is drinking 18 ounces of fruit juice a day, it’s time to stay away from the fruit juice,” says Dr. Stephen Turner, chairman of pediatrics at Long Island College Hospital.
White flour and French fries are also to blame for the high rate of obesity in kids, says pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, author of “Feeding Baby Green.”
“The third most common vegetable that a 9 month old gets is French fries,” Greene says. “By 18 months old, French fries are the number one vegetable for kids. “
And, he adds, “Babies get more calories from white flour than from any other solid food.” White flour, Greene says, is linked both to obesity and diabetes. “The body handles it like a spoonful of sugar,” he explains. “Switching to whole grains doesn’t cost any more, and if you do so when your baby is young, it’s a really easy switch.”
Parents should keep their baby’s weight in perspective, too. “”Don’t take their weight out of context with their length,” advises Dr. Henry Bernstein, chief of general pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. If your baby’s weight is in the 95th percentile and the height is in the 25th percentile, “Look at the quality of what he is eating,” Bernstein advises.
And keep in mind that many kids will slim down naturally. “Between 9 months and 2 years, a lot of babies thin out as they start to walk and are less interested in eating,” Turner says. “If you’re feeding your child healthy foods, I wouldn’t worry. But they should not be eating high fat fast food.”
MGH test for cancer gets backing
$30m agreement aims to develop, expand use
Carolyn Y. Johnson
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have already developed a prototype of a microchip that can detect tumor cells at extremely low levels in the bloodstream. The effort to be announced today intends to draw on the expertise of scientists familiar with how to bring such technologies to patients and doctors.
“We’re limited by our ability to make it fast, easy, cheap, and something that could be done on a global scale,’’ said Dr. Daniel Haber, director of the MGH Cancer Center. “Our goal is to build together a third-generation technology. . . that would be so easy to use and so standard, it wouldn’t have to be a research tool.’’
By detecting cancer cells through a blood test, doctors could better follow the disease’s course — looking to see whether the level of cancer cells circulating drops with treatment. It would also allow doctors to test the genetics of the cancer cells, considered by doctors to be critical because many cancer drugs are targeted treatments that work against a cancer with a particular mutation.
Because bloodstream-borne cancer cells are extremely rare — with about one cancer cell per billion blood cells — the technology must be able to detect extremely rare cells.
Already, the Boston researchers have developed a prototype and they, along with four other research institutions, have received a $15 million grant from the organization Stand Up to Cancer to test the prototype. But that technology is expensive and complicated to use, with each chip costing about $500.
Now, Mass. General researchers will work together with Veridex LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company, and Ortho Biotech Oncology R&D, a unit of the pharmaceutical giant, drawing on their expertise in areas such as clearing regulatory hurdles and clinically validating new tests. Haber said that it is roughly a $30 million deal, depending in part on achieving intermediate milestones and successes.
The investment is a powerful vote of confidence for the technology, but the chip is in the experimental stages, and it is impossible to know now how successful it will be in guiding cancer treatment. Haber said the test has been used experimentally in about 200 patients. Haber co-leads the project with Mehmet Toner, director of the BioMicroElectroMechanical Systems Resource Center at Mass. General.
To detect the extremely rare cells, the new technology uses minuscule channels carved into a silicon chip, coated with a special glue-like substance. When the blood filters through the channels, Haber said, the technology is able to pick up, on average, about 10 cancer cells per milliliter of blood in patients with metastatic cancer, disease that has spread from a primary tumor to other parts of the body.
“If the technology gets more and more sensitive, we may be able to use this as an early diagnostic,’’ Haber said. “You might be able to pick up any tumor which invades into the blood system, and that could mean there is a chance of catching tumors before they spread.’’
The deal is part of a broader effort at Mass. General to push scientific breakthroughs and promising basic research into potential clinical applications faster.
“What we’re trying to do is to develop a more efficient process for translating our early-stage innovations to the point where they can impact patient care,’’ said Frances Toneguzzo, executive director of the office of research ventures and licensing at Partners HealthCare. “We’re doing that by, at least in this case, partnering with a company that can provide the market information and help us with regulatory’’ hurdles.
Veridex, the company that is partnering with Mass. General, has already successfully brought to market one technology used to detect circulating tumor cells.
“This new technology has the potential to facilitate an easy-to-administer, non-invasive blood test that would allow us to count tumor cells, and to characterize the biology of the cells,’’ Robert McCormack, head of technology innovation and strategy at Veridex, said in a statement.
Dramatic spike in gas prices forecasted
Demand for oil keeps increasing
Patrice Hill-The Washington Times 8:43 p.m., Sunday, January 2, 2011
Oil and gasoline prices have risen to their highest levels in two years, and analysts say prices could shoot up dramatically this year as the thirst for fuel grows in the U.S. and around the world.
The former head of Shell Oil has warned that gas prices could hit $5 a gallon by 2012 because of fast-growing demand in emerging countries such as China and India, where more and more people are buying cars, combined with restraints on drilling in the U.S. in the wake of last year's disastrous Gulf oil spill.
Less-worrisome forecasts are calling for a rise in gas prices to $3.75 a gallon by spring from today's $3.07 average level, with premium crude prices easily exceeding $100 a barrel this year as demand for oil around the world returns to pre-recession levels last seen in 2007.
"We'll definitely see $100 oil," Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlook and Opinions, told Platts Energy Week TV last week. "The way things are going — the cold weather, supply issues — $100 oil is inevitable and it's on its way." Higher gas prices will follow the lead of oil, as they usually do, he said.
Premium crude prices surged to nearly $92 in New York trading last week before falling back to end at $89.18 at the close of trading Thursday.
Mr. Larry said the spike in energy prices is being driven by robust growth in oil consumption in Asia as well as steadily rising demand in the U.S., which remains the world's largest consumer of oil.
"All signs point to an economic recovery, and that's going to increase demand," he said.
Energy consultant Wood Mackenzie estimates that developing economies pushed world oil demand last year to 86.7 million barrels a day — 100,000 barrels more than in 2007 — and will feed further demand growth to 88 million barrels in 2011.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was mistaken in blaming the uptick in prices on "speculators" rather than an unexpectedly strong increase in demand in the developing world last year, and that led the oil ministers to put off any increase in production at a meeting last month, Mr. Larry said.
He said that was reminiscent of mistakes the oil cartel made in 2007 that led to a run-up in prices to $147 per barrel in mid-2008 — a record high that helped throw the world economy into recession.
The return of developments similar to those that led to the surge in energy prices in 2008 is attracting investors and speculators into the oil market, where they see the chance to make money by further driving up prices, he said.
Mr. Larry does not see as dire an outlook as does John Hoffmeister, former president of Shell Oil who now heads the activist group Citizens for Affordable Energy. He sees $5 gas by 2012 because politicking and gridlock over energy issues in Washington are jeopardizing access to U.S. energy supplies and have virtually shut down new production in the Gulf of Mexico.
"If we stay on our current course, within a decade we're into energy shortages in this country big time," he said last week. "Blackouts, brownouts, gas lines, rationing — that's my projection based upon the current inability to make decisions."
While the Obama administration lifted its moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf weeks ago, Mr. Hoffmeister said huge regulatory barriers to development remain, and will prevent more than one or two "token" wells from being drilled in the next two years.
Analysts attribute the sudden jump in energy prices in the past month to several developments besides growing demand and restraints on supply.
Because oil is priced in U.S. dollars, it tends to rise when the dollar falls. The dollar has been declining recently in response to moves by the Federal Reserve and Congress to further stimulate the U.S. economy in a way that generates enormous budget deficits that the Fed is helping to finance by printing dollars and purchasing Treasury bonds.
Investors also are starting to bid up the price of oil and other commodities such as gold and copper, as they did in 2007 and 2008, because those commodities hold their values when the dollar is falling and are seen as good hedges against inflation.
Speculators also are zeroing in on evidence that world oil production may not keep up with fast-rising demand, creating the potential for tight markets and oil shortages especially if the U.S. starts experiencing healthier economic growth.
With global production nearly flat at circa 86 million barrels a day since 2004, some analysts fear that the world may already have reached so-called "peak oil" output, thus may be unprepared for another big run-up in demand like that seen in the past decade.
Tom Whipple, analyst at the Post Carbon Institute, said the International Energy Agency appeared to concede recently that the world reached peak production of 70 million barrels a day of conventional crude oil from underground wells in 2004.
Still, the agency continues to predict that technology breakthroughs will produce new oil sources that will replace the world's fast-declining major wells because it is under political pressure to do so from the United States and other developed nations, Mr. Whipple said.
The world's political leaders do not want to admit that the world economy cannot grow without oil and any absolute limit in supplies means the end of growth, he said.
In the meantime, prices will escalate, he predicted.
"Oil prices are nearing the point that, based on what we saw in 2008, they will do serious to devastating economic damage to the global economy," he said. "The idea that oil prices will remain below economically damaging levels for the next 25 years seems far-fetched."
David Greenlaw, an economist at Morgan Stanley, does not see a cataclysmic scenario or energy price shock in coming years, but agrees that supplies remain tight as a result of fast-declining wells in Mexico, Alaska, the North Sea, Russia and other major producing regions.
Nonconventional sources of oil like the Canadian oil sands and oil shale deposits in the United States will ease some of the strain, he said, but will not be able to make up for the falloff from conventional wells.
"Some fear that rising energy prices will be a chronic headwind for U.S. and global growth," he said. "We recognize the hurdles, but we think such fears are overblown."
A sudden and sustained surge of $30 in oil prices would "threaten the U.S. consumer and the economy," he said. But Morgan Stanley expects to see only gradual price increases that will not be "a major threat to the economy," he said.
The FBI report showing plunging rates of violent and property crime is really just another indication of tough economic times. In a nutshell, there's a lot less worth stealing.
It's official: It's a tough time to be a criminal in America.
As new FBI crime figures point out, property crimes, murder, rape, and arson all plunged in the first six months of 2010 – some would say counterintuitively – even as unemployment and hard times hit communities from coast to coast.
The idea that the crime rate is, if not a leading indicator, at least a trailing indicator of the economy has gripped criminologists studying the Great Recession. At the same time that consumers purchase fewer true luxury items, a glut of "lightweight durables" means lower resale prices for hot computers and wide-screen TVs. And having more male residents of households hanging on the porch instead of at work makes the risk-benefit analysis of crime less appealing in recessionary times.
"When the economy goes down, there's less to steal, people are home more, and they get drunk in bars less," says Marcus Felson, a criminologist at Texas State University, in San Marcos.
"Recessions actually tend to be associated with decreases in crime," adds Peter Scharf, a criminologist at Tulane University in New Orleans. "People's aspiration levels go down, they get less greedy, they stay home. Not only don't you go to Saks and Macy's, you don't go to Best Buy and Walmart. So even in your risk populations you can get a recession effect: People are not out in the large economy involved in conflict and alcohol and property crimes" to the same extent as during a booming economy.
Nationwide, the six-month report shows reports of murder down 7.1 percent, rape reports down 6.2 percent, robbery reports down 10.7 percent, and aggravated assault reports down 3.9 percent. The data show a similar downward trend in reports of property crimes, with theft down 2.3 percent, motor vehicle theft down 9.7 percent, and arson down 14.6 percent.
To put the crime rate into context, Mr. Felson says, Americans should realize that the US is a society with few hard-core criminals but lots of occasional lawbreakers – in other words, regular citizens. What's more, he says, the difference between "perpetrator" and "victim" is far less stark than what most people believe.
"The fact is, a majority of the population does a little crime, and when you've got millions of Americans doing a little crime what you get is a giant multiplier," says Felson. "Crime is actually very ordinary and most crime isn't murder, and most assaults are minor. That means that the public image of crime is almost totally skewed."
So what about regional differences? Violent crimes actually ticked up slightly in the Northeast compared with in the South and West, but that statistic is largely explained by the fact that the baseline crime rate in the Northeast is lower than in other regions, so variances seem more significant.
At the same time, says Mr. Scharf, Southern states have been more reluctant to parole prisoners to ease overcrowding in prisons or to trim budgets. That means "that we've actually eroded some criminal-justice capacity, and that's most obvious in the North and less obvious in the South," he says.
At some point, the correlation between a poor economy and plunging crime rates may diverge, experts say.
"If we go for another couple of years and the New Orleanses and Atlantas out there can't absorb these [idle] kids into the economy, that's a huge long-term crime risk," says Scharf.
But for the moment, the plunging crime rate may have a simple explanation, he adds: "There's nothing left worth stealing."
What Obama Faces in 2011
HONOLULU Hawaii - President Obama has vowed to make jobs and the economy his top priority in 2011, and while that will probably dominate his agenda, there are a whole host of other issues that will be in the mix.
Obama is taking time on his Hawaiian vacation to work on his State of the Union speech, which will formally set the agenda for the year, but he already hinted at his focus before he left he'll hone in turning around the economy.
He's hoping it will get a boost from his tax deal with Republicans. "It's led economists across the political spectrum to predict that the economy will grow faster than they originally thought next year," Obama said at year-end press conference.
The president will have to make decisions on how to deal with the ballooning deficit and one thing that makes this year different than his first two, is that he'll have to deal with the 112th Congress which is far more red.
"I think that we're still going to have disagreements in terms of spending priorities," Obama said before leaving on vacation.
Analysts seem to agree.
"I think the biggest explosion will be about spending, debt, deficits and health care. Those are the areas where the parties disagree the most," said Larry Sabato Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Late in January aides say the president will work on our relationship with China, hosting a state visit for President Hu Jinato.
China is a major player in the world economy and also a critical player in dealing with looming threats of Iran and North Korea.
Despite calls from the international community, Iran has failed to stop its nuclear program.
"That means that President Obama may have his hardest decisions about Iran in the next one to two years; whether or not to attack their nuclear facilities. That could be the biggest foreign policy decision, frankly, of his presidency," foreign policy expert from the Brookings Institution Michael O'Hanlon said.
Then there are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraqis have finally formed their government and the U.S. has moved to more of an assist role. U.S. troops are slated to leave at the end of this year according to an agreement that was reached.
Some experts have suggested that an extension would be wise so that the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds would have more time to work out their disputes.
"Until those are partially resolved, I'm nervous about the idea of all American troops leaving. So 2011 looks to be another tense year in Iraq, but on balance 2010 was ok," O'Hanlon said.
On Afghanistan, the administration scheduled July of this year to begin a major transition, and then start bringing troops home by 2014 and ending combat operations.
"I think you'll start to see where allies are getting restless if don't see a strategy that's winning in Afghanistan," said Heather Conley, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates  is also slated to leave in 2011, so Obama will have to pick a new Pentagon chief. Gates was a hold over from the Bush administration, so the president's selection will say a lot about his war strategy.
On Capitol Hill , the president has said he wants to bring up the DREAM Act again, which failed in Congress at the end of 2010. The bill would give children of illegal immigrants who graduate high school in the U.S. a chance to get permanent residency.
Also, an old campaign promise is still hovering unfinished. Obama pledged on the campaign trail that he'd close Guantanamo Bay his first year in office, and now entering his third year, the administration still hasn't found a way to do that or where to put the detainees.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.
Winn/APCBS news anchor Katie Couric suggested America could benefit from a Muslim version of 'The Cosby Show.'
Katie Couric thinks she has part of the solution to bigotry in America: a Muslim version of "The Cosby Show."
The CBS News anchor made the suggestion on her web show while discussing the biggest news stories of 2010, including the mosque near Ground Zero and the "seething hatred" that has grown against Muslims in America.
"Maybe we need a Muslim version of 'The Cosby Show'... I know that sounds crazy, I know that sounds crazy," said Couric. "But 'The Cosby Show' did so much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of things they don't understand."
The popular 1980s show focused on the Huxtables, an affluent American-African family living in Brooklyn.
The Cosby Show. (AP)
Her statement came during a discussion with Politico's Jonathan Martin, comedian Mo Rocca and Theroot.com's Sheryl Huggins-Salomon.
Rocca said that he was "pretty smart" and went to "fancy schools" but couldn't "tell you five things about Islam," which prompted Couric's suggestion.
"I think sometimes people are afraid of what they don't understand Couric added, suggesting Muslims should become "more part of the popular culture."
Check out the video. Couric's statements come around 22:40:
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 31, 2010; 12:00 AM
Every spring, private security officers at San Francisco International Airport compete in a workplace "March Madness"-style tournament for cash prizes, some as high as $1,500.
The games: finding illegal items and explosives in carry-on bags; successfully picking locks on difficult-to-open luggage; and spotting a would-be terrorist (in this case Covenant Aviation Security's president, Gerald L. Berry) on security videos.
"The bonuses are pretty handsome," Berry said. "We have to be good - equal or better than the feds. So we work at it, and we incentivize."
Some of the nation's biggest airports are responding to recent public outrage over security screening by weighing whether they should hire private firms such as Covenant to replace the Transportation Security Administration. Sixteen airports, including San Francisco and Kansas City International Airport, have made the switch since 2002. One Orlando airport has approved the change but needs to select a contractor, and several others are seriously considering it.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which governs Dulles International and Reagan National airports, is studying the option, spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said.
For airports, the change isn't about money. At issue, airport managers and security experts say, is the unwieldy size and bureaucracy of the federal aviation security system. Private firms may be able to do the job more efficiently and with a personal touch, they argue.
Airports that choose private screeners must submit the request to the TSA. There are no specific criteria for approval, but federal officials can decide whether to grant the request "based on the airport's record of compliance on security regulations and requirements." The TSA pays for the cost of the screening and has the final say on which company gets the contract.
Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), the incoming chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has written to 200 of the nation's largest airports, urging them to consider switching to private companies.
The TSA was "never intended to be an army of 67,000 employees," he said.
"If you look at [the TSA's] performance, have they ever stopped a terrorist? Anyone can get through," Mica said in an interview. "We've been very lucky, very fortunate. TSA should focus on its mission: setting up the protocol, adapting to the changing threats and gathering intelligence."The debate
The differences between private firms' employees and federal workers are often imperceptible to the everyday traveler. Covenant security details use different badges and insignia and have higher pay for new employees.
Procedures in airport security lines do not change. Thirty private firms are contracted by the TSA to potentially work as screeners, and their employees are required by federal law to undergo the same training, use the same pat-down techniques and operate the same equipment - such as full-body scanners - that the TSA does.
With a reduced role, the TSA could become more of a regulatory agency, leaving much of the daily work on the ground to for-profit companies. But federal officials say the expertise and training offered at the 457 TSA-regulated airports are unparalleled.
"U.S. aviation security technology and procedures are driven by the latest intelligence and give us the best chance to detect and disrupt any potential threat, given the tools currently available," TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball said.
It's unclear whether private screeners cost the TSA more. One independent report found that private security contracts were 9 to 17 percent higher than the TSA's costs. Mica says the difference is "concocted."
The TSA also offers performance-based incentives. Employees who reach the highest performance rating can get a pay raise and a $2,500 bonus.
Many security and airline industry officials say the switch to a network of privately run screeners could hinder much of the government's progress since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Robert W. Mann, an industry analyst and former airline executive based in New York, said airports who are considering a switch to private screeners are simply responding to "consumer outrage." Mann says a a better solution is tougher regulations and training for federal security officers.
"We can't go back to the late '90s when private screeners had McDonald's-level wages and attention spans to match," Mann said. "A uniform, tough government system makes a lot of sense."
The American Federation of Government Employees, the labor union for TSA employees, has questioned the privatization of airport security as well, calling it an ineffective "patchwork quilt."
Passenger-rights groups' opinions are mixed. Weary of big business but locked in a long-running fight over federal security methods, many travelers say they would like to see far-reaching government reforms and a limited amount of privatization.
"The private security is pretty good and rigid," said Kate Hanni, who runs Flyers Rights out of Napa, Calif., which counts more than 30,000 members. "But as long as the scanners and pat-downs are in place, the experience is going to be the same."
Hanni said trade groups, nonprofit organizations, airports and federal officials are working to "get on the good side of Mica" as he becomes chairman of the House transportation committee.
But what the debate over private-vs.-government security most clearly shows is TSA's customer-service issues, said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University who has followed the TSA since it was created in 2001. In its early days, the TSA consulted Marriott International, the Walt Disney Co. and Intel on ways to speed people through checkpoints and make fliers happy.
"TSA forgot about customer service," Light said. "The early executives were worried about smiley faces, wait times. They've lost sight of that."Advocates
Covenant, based in Mica's home district in northeastern coastal Florida, has airport screening contracts in Sioux Falls, S.D., Tupelo, Miss., and seven small airports in northern and eastern Montana. Its deal at San Francisco International is by far its largest. Covenant employs nearly 1,100 people in the bay area, who make up nearly all of its 1,150 workers. The last four-year contract, from 2006 to 2010, totaled $314 million. A new contract has been put out for competitive bids. Meanwhile, Covenant is operating on a two-month contract ending in February.
San Francisco airport officials say that they are happy with the Covenant contract and that "by allowing Covenant to worry about staffing, TSA can focus on the security," airport spokesman Michael C. McCarron said.
Berry, Covenant's president and a former Marine colonel who served two tours flying helicopters in Vietnam, has become the face of the private security movement, extolling the virtues of private business in fostering better and safer environments on television news programs and before congressional panels.
"We're smaller, we can react much quicker to things and I think a lot of airports want to be more customer service-oriented," he said. "There's a reason not one of the 16 airports that have opted out have gone back to TSA."
Few government or third-party reports have been produced in the past eight years that compare the performance of private companies with that of the government in airport security. The lone outside study, commissioned by the TSA and written by an Arlington County information technology firm, compared a dozen airports and looked at data from 2004 through 2007. It found that private screeners perform at a level "equal to or better" than their government counterparts.
The full study's findings have never been released.
Orlando's two commercial airports, Orlando International and Orlando Sanford International, were bringing in Covenant and FirstLine last month for presentations on taking over airport security. Orlando Sanford approved the change to privatization in October, before the uproar over the TSA's screening methods even began.
Orlando Sanford President Larry Dale said private screening would be "more enjoyable" for the traveling public and potentially spur business.
"This country was built on competition, on private investment," Dale said, "and I've gotten a lot of complaints from passengers about the new screening. We're a business after all, and we have to look out for our customers."
Other airports, including Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport and Indianapolis International Airport, have said publicly they are studying whether a change would improve their bottom line.
The Kansas City airport, which was one of the first tochoose a private security operator, said the biggest difference in using private screeners is the ability to get security issues resolved quickly.
"Unlike a government job, these contract employees can be removed immediately with poor performance, attitude or unsuitability," said Kansas City airport director Mark VanLoh. "It shows in our passenger surveys for customer satisfaction each year."
Charge: Man caught pushing stolen TV past Auburn police station
Monday, December 27, 2010
Last updated 1:01 p.m. PT
King County prosecutors have filed theft charges against a 22-year-old man allegedly caught wheeling a stolen television past the Auburn police station.
Police contend Johnathon D. Barnes grabbed the 50-inch set out of the back of a Quality Rentals delivery truck, then attempted to wheel it away in a shopping cart. An Auburn officer intervened after seeing Barnes pushing the shopping cart past the front gate of the East Main Street police station.
According to charging documents, a bystander called 911 at 5 p.m. on Dec. 16 to report that she'd seen a man place a large television in a shopping cart. As dispatchers relayed the call, a police officer pulling into the station parking lot spotted Barnes -- dressed entirely in camouflage -- pass by.
The officer caught up to Barnes in the 500 block of East Main Street and stopped to ask him what he was doing.
According to charging documents, Barnes said he'd bought the TV from a friend and then attempted to run away. After a short foot pursuit, Barnes was found lying on the ground in a parking lot and arrested.
Investigators later learned the television had been stolen from Quality Rentals earlier in the day, an Auburn detective told the court. It had been left unattended in the back of a delivery truck when it went missing.
Questioned following his arrest, Barnes denied any wrongdoing and said he was moving the television for his friend James, the detective said in court papers.
"He explained 'James' … had asked him to push the big screen television one block away from the transit station," the detective told the court. "Barnes further explained he did not know 'James'' last name, address or phone number or how to contact him."
Barnes, of Federal Way, was booked into the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent but has since been released. He is charged with second-degree theft.
The List: Top New Year's resolutions
Watching less television and exercising are two popular New Year's resolutions.
The Washington Times
Friday, December 31, 2010
The new year is a time to reflect; to make new commitments and resolutions. This week, The List looks at some of the popular resolutions people make at the beginning of each year.
Compiled by John Haydon
Susan Blumenthal, M.D.
Public Health Editor at HuffPost and Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon
December 31, 2010 08:36 AM
New Year's Eve 2011: 12 Tips for a Healthier You
Many of these illnesses are preventable. Smoking, a health damaging behavior in which about 20 percent of the U.S. population engages, is the largest preventable cause of death in the U.S.  Furthermore, for every person who dies from a smoking-related illness, 20 more live with at least one smoking-related chronic disease such as lung disease, heart disease and cancer.  The two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. If this trajectory is not changed, one in three children born today will develop type 2 diabetes as well as other obesity related illnesses, and as a result, this generation of children may become the first that does not live as long and is less healthy than their parents.  Alcohol abuse accounts for 79,000 premature and preventable deaths every year, and is linked to liver disease, cancer, cardiovascular illness, stroke and dementia.  Furthermore, 75 percent of the $2.6 trillion health care budget in America is associated with these preventable lifestyle factors.
There are also significant health disparities in our country. A recent report revealed significant differences in life expectancy among population groups in the United States. It described "Eight Americas" -- categories based on a combination of race and county of residence -- in which there is a 30 year life expectancy gap in the U.S. between a Native American man living in South Dakota whose lifespan is 58 years and an Asian American woman living in Bergen County, New Jersey whose life expectancy is 91. 
Developing and implementing strategies to reduce health damaging behaviors and injuries as well as to rectify health disparities -- perhaps more than any miracle medication that could be discovered--has the potential to reduce annual deaths in the U.S. by half as well as dramatically cut health care costs and disability.
The good news is that the recent health care reform legislation, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, is fueling a prevention revolution by making many preventive and early detection services free at the doctor's office. It also establishes a $15 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund to invest in programs -- from smoking cessation to combating obesity -- that will help to keep Americans healthy. The legislation invests in both individual and community based programs to build environments that will foster healthier behaviors.
But there is also much that individuals and families can do to lead healthier lives. This New Year, make and keep resolutions to improve your health -- you will feel better and live longer. Listed below are some key ingredients of a prescription for a healthier future in 2011:
Find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable and get routine check ups. Enter into a partnership with your doctor for your health. If you ever have doubts about a physician's recommendations, get a second opinion. Make sure you obtain regular screening exams (cholesterol, blood pressure, pap smears, mammograms, prostate checks and colonoscopies depending on your age and sex). Keep your immunizations current, including pneumonia and seasonal flu vaccinations. Early detection and regular preventive care reduces the risk of disease and disability and saves lives and billions of dollars in health care costs for our nation.
Know and keep a record of your family health history. Some diseases run in families. Talk with your relatives to get information. Share this knowledge with your doctor. Learn about the signs and symptoms of these illnesses so that you can detect them early.
Quit smoking. If you don't smoke, please never start. If you do smoke, make a plan to stop and see it through. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in America and is linked to heart disease, cancer, stroke, emphysema and other chronic illnesses. Second hand smoke also significantly impairs the health of those who are in contact with smokers.
Eat smart. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, whole grains, vitamins, folate and calcium that is low is saturated fats and salt is a critical ingredient in the recipe for a healthier future. Limit your fat intake to 30 percent of daily calories. Also try to incorporate lean meats and other sources of protein that are low in fat like tofu and legumes. Portion control is a key element! Visit nutrition.gov and mypyramid.gov for more information.  Eating smart will help you to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and certain cancers. 
Exercise regularly. Physical activity is one of the most important steps you can take towards a healthier future. If you are not currently exercising, start slowly and build up. Aim for at least 30 minutes at least five days a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 1 hour and 15 minutes per week of high-intensity aerobic exercise. Cross train to avoid injury. Also remember to strength train all of your major muscle groups at least twice a week, and don't forget to stretch! Pick activities you like -- take stairs instead of elevators, dance, take a power walk instead of a power lunch. Try a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day! Walking with others or going to the gym with friends can make exercise more enjoyable. Visit fitness.gov to learn more.
Exercise your mind as well. Turn off the TV! Playing Sudoku, doing crossword puzzles, joining a book club, or learning a new language or skill are great ways to keep your mind sharp and engaged. Choosing fun and meaningful activities also makes life more enjoyable.
Get enough sleep. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Getting a good night's rest leaves you refreshed, alert and ready to tackle the day's challenges. Adequate sleep can also help to reduce stress and give your body a chance to heal from illness and injury. To take advantage of these benefits, the National Sleep Foundation recommends establishing a regular bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals, and exercise right before bedtime, as well as creating a dark, quiet, and comfortable environment to fall asleep in.
Limit alcohol intake -- if you drink, do so responsibly and only in moderation. While one glass a day of red wine might help prevent heart disease, remember that serious health issues are associated with its use including car crashes, alcohol abuse, increased risk of liver disease and some cancers. For women, more than 1 drink a day is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.  Avoid alcohol totally if you are pregnant. Never drink and drive. And drugs? Don't, unless they are prescribed for you and then be sure to take them for the recommended period of time.
Schedule regular skin exams. Skin cancer is on the rise. Perform self-exams looking for growths with irregular shapes and colors. Have your skin checked annually. Above all, practice preventive medicine. Use sunscreens and be a shade worshiper. While adequate vitamin D from the sun has been shown to have important health benefits, taking a supplement to get sufficient amounts may be necessary for some people.
Be safe. Be safe in your home, in your workplace, on your bike, in your car, outdoors and in your sexual practices. Wear a helmet, use your seat belt, wear sun screen, check your smoke alarms and install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Be ready in case of an emergency. Be prepared in the event of a disaster such as a tornado, hurricane, terrorist attack or flu pandemic. Develop a family plan and communication strategy. For more information, call 1-800-Be-Ready or visit www.ready.gov and www.fema.gov. Know what you can do to keep safe from the flu: practice good hygiene, wash hands, cover coughs, get vaccinated for seasonal flu (this year's vaccine provides protection against H1N1, which was pandemic in 2009), and avoid settings with people who are ill. Check out www.pandemicflu.gov to learn more.
Find your own stress buster. Find time in the day that's just for you. Take a walk, read a book, practice yoga. Make sure you have time to engage in the activities in life that bring you joy and satisfaction.
Stay connected with your social network. Having strong connections to others can improve your health and longevity. It's also more fun and easier to engage in healthy behaviors if others join you. Many studies have shown that relationships influence our long term health in ways that are as powerful as a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. These benefits extend to givers and receivers of support. A lack of connections, on the other hand, is associated with increased mortality by as much as 50 percent, depression, and a decline in cognitive function later in life. It's the quality of relationships that makes the difference, so visit with your friends and family regularly, reach out to new contacts, and enjoy developing meaningful connections.
Know your health care plan. The recently passed health care reform legislation, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, ensures that all Americans have access to quality health care by 2014. It also ends discriminatory health insurance practices such as denying health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, removes the lifetime cap on insurance benefits, and requires insurance companies to spend 85 percent of every health insurance dollar on benefits rather than administrative costs or profits. 44,000 Americans lose their lives because they don't have access to health care. [ 9] The new law will expand access to health services, helping to enroll as many as 32 million Americans who currently lack insurance coverage. In 2014, the new state health insurance exchanges will regulate the quality of participating insurance plans and will provide consumers with standardized information about the various plans that is easy to compare. But you don't have to wait until 2014 to benefit from the law. Starting now, certain health plans are required to cover preventive services, and for seniors the Medicare "donut hole" -- the gap in prescription drug coverage -- will begin to close. Choose a health care plan that is right for you and your family. For more information, visit healthcare.gov.
Be a savvy health consumer. Read as much as you can and use trustworthy Internet sites for reliable health information. Know your health plan. Be informed. Knowledge is power when it comes to your health and the health of your family, business and community.
By following the steps in this prevention prescription, we can move towards a healthier future for ourselves, our families, and our country in the New Year and beyond.
Thad AllenNational Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg / Getty Images
Highs: The gruff Allen, a retired admiral and former commandant of the Coast Guard who helped manage the response to Hurricane Katrina, was a rare reassuring presence in the troubled federal efforts to control the Gulf oil spill. It was Allen who ran the near-daily press conferences, and who was the final authority for any decisions made by BP as it struggled to repair the ongoing leak. No one came out of the spill clean, but Allen made out better than most.
Lows: Even though the chain of command put Allen at the top, there were still times when it seemed that BP-the guilty party-was running the shop. Too often the federal response was slow to dispense information, leaving a vacuum. And at the end of the day, it still took months for Allen's team to finally close the leak-staining his boss President Obama with a daily reminder of failure.
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