Defiant Clarence Thomas fires back
Kenneth P. Vogel
February 27, 2011 01:22 PM EST
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – his impartiality under attack from liberals because of his attendance at a meeting of conservative donors sponsored by the Koch brothers and his wife’s tea party activism – struck a defiant tone in a Saturday night speech in Charlottesville, Va., telling a friendly audience that he and his wife “believe in the same things” and “are focused on defending liberty.”
Ginni Thomas has long been active in conservative politics, but had a relatively low profile until recent months.
She first attracted attention for founding Liberty Central, a non-profit group that she envisioned as forming a bridge between the conservative establishment and the anti-establishment tea party movement.
POLITICO reported that the group received a $550,000 infusion from two anonymous contributions while the Supreme Court was deliberating over the Citizens United case.
Ginni Thomas stepped down from Liberty Central in December after controversy over a message she left on a voice mail requesting an apology from Anita Hill, the woman who accused her husband of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearings for the high court in 1991.
Last month, Thomas had to amend 13 years’ worth of financial disclosure reports to indicate the sources – though not amounts – of his wife’s income after Common Cause raised questions about his omission of the information.
More recently, both Thomases were criticized after POLITICO revealed that Ginni Thomas had started a lobbying group that bills itself as using her “experience and connections” to help clients “with “governmental affairs efforts” and political donation strategies.
Earlier this month, 74 House Democrats signed a letter asking Thomas to recuse himself from any cases related to last year’s Democratic healthcare overhaul bill partly because of his wife’s lobbying.
“From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife’s financial stake in the overturn of health care reform is blurred,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote to Justice Thomas, citing his failure to report his wife’s income in his disclosure filings over the past decade.
Some legal experts have dismissed the demands that Thomas recuse himself.
Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California Irvine who sharply criticized the Citizen United decision, nonetheless called Common Cause’s letter to the Justice Department, which also mentioned fellow Justice Antonin Scalia’s attendance at a 2007 Koch retreat, “an unwarranted attack on the ethics of the Justices.”
Leonard Leo, a Federalist Society executive and longtime friend of the Thomases who sits on the board of Liberty Central, told POLITICO on Sunday that Thomas’s remarks were similar to those he’s delivered at past events.
“I’ve known the Thomases for over 20 years, and have heard the Justice speak dozens and dozens of times,” said Leo, who moderated a question-and-answer session with Thomas after Saturday’s speech. “What he said last night about both his wife’s integrity for standing up for what she believes in and the duty of all of us to stand up for our liberty, even in the face of the most personalized attacks, is no different from what he has said in countless other appearances going all the way back to 1991, and probably even before that.”
Thomas’s message was not geared towards attacking critics, Leo said, but rather “motivating young law students to stand up for what they believe in, even if that means being reviled and having to pay a price for it.”
Another person affiliated with the Federalist Society who’s frequently heard Thomas speak at its events and was at the dinner Saturday said the Thomases “couldn’t have been more happy and fun-loving with all of us,” spending about an hour both before and after the event talking to students and posing for pictures.
Thomas’s reference to sharing values with his wife was “in the context of a discussion about character and the virtues of honesty, duty and hard work - not law or the Constitution,” said the person, who added Saturday wasn’t the first time Thomas has “been critical of highly politicized and dishonest attacks aimed at character assassination rather than substance.”
But the source who provided POLITICO with the recording said Thomas on Saturday seemed bothered by the criticism of him and his wife, alluding to it unprompted several time during the question-and-answer with a crowd that gave him several standing ovations.
“The criticism of his honor … and his wife obviously struck a nerve,” said the source.
At one point Thomas recognized his wife in the audience and suggested she was being targeted for her beliefs, telling the audience, according to the recording, “my bride is with me, Virginia Thomas. And some of you may know her. But the reason I bring that – specifically bring it – up is there is a price to pay today for standing in defense of your Constitution.”
Thomas said his wife “started her organization to give 24/7 every day in defense of liberty,” and said he shared her principles.
“We are equally yoked, and we love being with each other because we love the same things. We believe in the same things,” he said. “So, with my wife, and with the people around me, what I see, I’m reinforced that we are focused on defending liberty. So, I admire her and I love her for that because it keeps me going.”
Thomas also warned in dire terms about what he said was the High Court’s straying from an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. Without mentioning the Democratic healthcare overhaul, Thomas singled out the Commerce Clause – which is at issue in the lawsuits challenging the overhaul that are expected to make their way to the Supreme Court – as an example of an area in which the Supreme Court had strayed, said the source.
“I do think that these are fundamental changes that are going on now, and I think they’re big changes,” Thomas said, explaining he wasn’t sure whether they are “reversible in any way. … But they’re so big, that I think they’re worth trying. And I think the [Constitution] is so important, it’s worth defending.”
Emphasizing the importance of the Supreme Court, Thomas said “It’s not a game with me. It doesn’t deal with any ego stuff with me. This is about our country. And one of the things I want to do is I want to go to my grave knowing that I gave everything I had to trying to get it right.”
Thomas closed by citing a quote from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – which Thomas said he has on a sign hanging in his chambers.
“And what I think is important for you all, is that when you see people standing in defense of what’s right, that you make sure that your voice is not remembered as one of the silent,” Thomas said. “Because there’s gonna be a day when you’re gonna look around and you’re gonna look at your kids and your grandkids and they’re gonna ask you a question: What happened to the great country that was here when you grew up, and why isn’t it here now, and what did you do?”
Delivering the keynote speech at an annual symposium for conservative law students, Thomas spoke in vague, but ominous, terms about the direction of the country and urged his listeners to “redouble your efforts to learn about our country so that you’re in a position to defend it.”
He also lashed out at his critics, without naming them, asserting they “seem bent on undermining” the High Court as an institution. Such criticism, Thomas warned, could erode the ability of American citizens to fend off threats to their way of life.
“You all are going to be, unfortunately, the recipients of the fallout from that – that there’s going to be a day when you need these institutions to be credible and to be fully functioning to protect your liberties,” he said, according to a partial recording of the speech provided to POLITICO by someone who was at the meeting.
“And that’s long after I’m gone, and that could be either a short or a long time, but you’re younger, and it’s still going to be a necessity to protect the liberties that you enjoy now in this country.”
Thomas spoke at the closing banquet for the symposium, which was sponsored by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group. Several hundred law students, professors, Federalist Society staffers and guests were in the audience for his speech, which was closed to the press.
It was the first time Thomas has spoken out – at least in a semi-public setting – about the mounting controversies that have swirled around him and his wife, Virginia Thomas, who goes by “Ginni” and who was in Charlottesville with her husband.
The justice’s critics have argued that his attendance at, and speech to, a private January 2008 gathering of major conservative donors sponsored by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers in Palm Springs, Calif. and his wife’s political activism have compromised his position on the court.
The liberal group Common Cause suggested in a January letter to the Justice Department that Justice Thomas’s connection to conservative donors may have been grounds for him to recuse himself from the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the court’s decision striking down decades-old restrictions on political spending.
Thomas sided with the conservative majority in the decision, which allowed corporations to fund political ads and contributed to an explosion in advertising campaigns funded with anonymous contributions in the 2010 midterm elections.
At conferences like the one in Palm Springs in 2008, the wealthy Koch brothers, Charles and David, and their operatives have raised millions of dollars for groups that air such ads, POLITICO has reported.
Thomas’s expenses for the conference were paid for by the Federalist Society, sponsor of Saturday’s symposium, according to his financial disclosure forms. Tax filings show that the Kochs, through their family’s charitable foundations, have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the society, though that represents only a fraction of the group’s overall budget, which comes from hundreds of donors.
LINK TO VIDEO CLARENCE THOMAS SPEAKS:
Just four months after posting historic election gains, Republicans are experiencing a reality check about 2012: President Barack Obama is going to be a lot tougher to defeat than he looked late last year.
Having gone from despondency in 2008 to euphoria last November, a more sober GOP is wincing in the light of day as they consider just how difficult unseating an incumbent president with a massive warchest is going to be, even with a still-dismal economy.
“I consider him a favorite, albeit a slight favorite,” said former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove. “Republicans underestimate President Obama at their own peril.”
Much of the GOP realism is rooted in a long-standing truism of American politics – that absent a major crisis of confidence, it’s highly difficult to defeat a sitting president.
But aside from the traditional advantages of incumbency, Republicans are also fretting about the strength of Obama’s campaign infrastructure, the potential limitations of their own field and, particularly, the same demographic weaknesses that haunted them in 2008.
The best indicator of the GOP outlook on 2012 may be the shape of the party’s prospective field. Many of the contenders who can afford to sit out a presidential election cycle and wait for an open-seat race – Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush come to mind – seem intent on doing so.
The view among senior Republicans is not that Obama is a sure bet or that the GOP nomination is not worth having. Many are convinced 2012 will be more competitive than 2008 and that the White House can still be won.
But there is an unmistakable sense among Republicans that the breezy predictions of Obama turning out to be the next Jimmy Carter were premature.
“The people that are sitting around saying, ‘He’s definitely going to be a one-term president. It’s going to be easy to take him out,’ they’re obviously political illiterates – political idiots, let me be blunt,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in an interview.
Some of those in the GOP, like Huckabee, who have considered or are considering a run are candid about the enormity of the challenge they’ll face, pointing to Obama’s potent political organization and the inherent power of the presidency.
“You just don’t go against a billion-dollar mountain of money, a guy who’s already won the presidency once – but he gets to fly in on Air Force One and make all his campaign stops with the trappings of the office,” said the Arkansan.
Others mulling a White House pointed to Obama’s response to what the president himself called the midterm “shellacking.”
Thune, who said last week that he wouldn’t seek the GOP nomination next year, praised Obama as a “very shrewd politician” to the Associated Press, noting that the president had moved the middle by supporting the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.
“As I observed his response and reaction to the midterm election, that was all part of my assessment of the landscape,” Thune said. “Any incumbent is a tough race, and he’s no exception. I think he’s got plenty of vulnerabilities, but I also observed how adept politically he was.”
While noting it was still early in the campaign, Christie highlighted another unmatched advantage Obama enjoys.
“He proved he could win once, so that’s one more time than anybody else who has run,” said the first-term New Jersey governor.
Then there are the structural advantages that helped lift Obama three years ago. Even as the GOP benefited last fall from what many independent voters saw as the president’s initial overreach, they still face nagging difficulties at the polls with minority voters and youths.
“The electorate will look much different in 2012 than it did in 2010,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who was a political operative for decades before coming to Congress. “It’s going to be younger, browner, and more to the left.”
The problem for Republicans is most acute among Hispanics, a pivotal bloc of the electorate in must-have Florida and the West.
“Republicans cannot afford to lose the Latino vote by 30%+ as they did in 2008,” read the slide headline on a 2012 polling presentation sent out last week by the GOP survey research firm Public Opinion Strategies.
Whit Ayres, a longtime GOP pollster with his own firm, said that the most discouraging piece of data for the party ahead of 2012 is the GOP’s difficulty with Hispanic voters.
“If we lose the fastest-growing, largest minority group like we lost them in 2008, it’s going to be pretty tough in places like Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona,” observed Ayres.
But Ayres and other Republicans pointed out that there were also some numbers on their side – namely sustained joblessness and the sense among voters that the country is on the wrong track.
“He’s going to have to win re-election with historically high unemployment,” said Cole.
The congressman said that if Obama does win he would likely break from recent historical precedent by getting re-elected with a narrower margin than what he first received upon winning the White House.
“It’s hard to see him running as strongly in places like Indiana and Ohio,” said the Oklahoman, citing two states the president won in 2008.
But Obama won’t be running in a vacuum and even before the Republicans likely to run formally launch their campaigns, party members are grumbling about their options in the typical way: by openly pining for others to get in the race
“Jeb’s opening is now,” wrote National Review editor Rich Lowry earlier this month in a much-buzzed-about column about the former Florida governor.
Candidates aside, Republicans also worry about the mechanics of their primary election season which, without winner-take-all contests early on, may continue longer than it has in recent cycles.
“Whoever the nominee is, whether it’s me or someone else, it’s going to be a short time window,” said Huckabee. “Probably no one can capture it until late spring, early summer. If that’s the case, [that’s a] shortened window to gear up for the general election, heal up the wounds from what will be a very gruesome campaign and to restock a war chest that’ll be empty by then.”
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is increasingly likely to run, said Obama was beatable simply because of his record. There is a distinction between how voters view the president personally and how they view his policies.
“Americans recognize bad policy that has yielded bad results,” Barbour said in an interview, noting the country’s skyrocketing debt under the incumbent.
But the Mississippian, a former RNC chair who has worked for decades in national politics, said that as the sitting president Obama would begin with an advantage.
“Incumbent presidents don’t lose very often, particularly if it’s a president who has taken over from the other party,” said Barbour.
Just once since 1896, he noted, has a sitting president lost his re-election after taking over from the opposite party four years earlier: Carter in 1980.
Alexander Burns contributed to this report.
Be mindful of your Internet accounts after your death
10:31 PM PST on Sunday, February 27, 2011
In the old days -- circa 1998 -- family or friends of someone who died would sometimes spend weeks rummaging through boxes and sifting through stacks of papers to locate photos, bank statements and personal letters.
That still happens, but today many people leave a detailed trail of their personal and financial lives in computer files and on online accounts.
The only problem is, grieving loved ones don't always have passwords to access the information, and social-media sites like Facebook don't always know if a user died, leading to morbid computer-generated messages about getting in touch with a friend, now deceased.
A Michigan couple sued Yahoo ! after the company refused to allow access to e-mails written by their son, a Marine killed in Iraq in 2004. Yahoo! cited the privacy of the Marine and his contacts, but a judge ordered the company to release the e-mails.
Enter the "digital executor."
A new book, "Your Digital Afterlife," recommends appointing someone to handle your digital legacy, much as a traditional executor carries out instructions in a written will.
Companies with names like Legacy Locker have formed to consolidate computer-based information in one secure online place and pass it on to designated beneficiaries. The service can be especially helpful for people with more complex online lives, including owners of small-business websites, said Jeremy Toeman, founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based Legacy Locker.
Brittaney Strauss, 19, said she's never thought about appointing a digital executor.
"I understand the basic idea of why, but it seems a little unnecessary," the Riverside woman said. She doesn't think there is much on her Facebook page worth saving for posterity.
Richard Burns, 71, of Riverside, wrote his computer-related passwords into his will, so his son and daughter can access his accounts. "Your Digital Afterlife" recommends not putting passwords in written wills because wills eventually become public documents, but Burns, a retiree, isn't concerned about scammers.
"They wouldn't get too much out of me," Burns said with a laugh.
Burns appears to be in the minority in planning ahead. Craig Marshall, an estate-planning attorney in the Riverside office of Best Best & Krieger, said neither he nor other lawyers he talked with at the firm have received requests to include computer-related instructions in wills.
Mike Combs, 50, of Hesperia, said he doesn't need a formal document. He already told his wife where to find important information on his computer and how to access it.
"Digital Afterlife" co-author Evan Carroll said that may be enough for some.
"If you give your wife your password, she becomes your digital executor," said Carroll, who is also co-writer of a blog on digital afterlives.
Yet some people may not want their spouses, parents or children to view everything they've done online, he said. They might consider giving them passwords for financial information and delegate trusted friends to discreetly delete items they probably would have wanted to keep private.
Pornography, viewed by tens of millions of Americans online, including an unknown number who die every day, is the most obvious source of potential posthumous embarrassment.
But there also might be posts on a chat line or comments in an e-mail that were innocent but could easily be misinterpreted or taken out of context, Carroll said.
"There is no greater fear someone has than having something you said, did or wrote misrepresented after you pass away," he said.
WHAT A POST MEANS
Carroll said many people are like Strauss: They don't think their Facebook posts and updates are worth saving. But they don't always reflect on how the remnants of their Facebook page may have meaning to loved ones and help them in the grieving process, he said.
Facebook deletes or converts an account to a memorial page if a legal executor or member of the immediate family sends verification of death. The memorial page does not include the deceased person's Facebook status updates and only allows Facebook "friends" to view it.
Twitter allows family to archive public tweets. Yahoo! totally deletes accounts when a death is verified.
Christian Quintana, who manages the Emmerson-Bartlett Memorial Chapel funeral homes in Redlands and Yucaipa, said Facebook and computer files can offer a treasure trove of items for an online or DVD tribute.
Even if decedents did not have Facebook pages or a computer, loved ones often have computer-based photos of them, he said. Instead of frantically searching through drawers and closets for photos in time to include in a tribute, loved ones can quickly email them to the funeral home, he said.
An increasing number of younger people who die had Facebook pages, he said. Friends and family members sometimes go over the pages with Quintana to pick out not only photos, but poems, sayings, favorite quotes and other postings that become remembrances in tributes.
"You're able to get a look into what a person was like," he said.
Main difference between Tea Partiers and union protestors
02/27/11 9:00 PM
Online Opinion Editor
I never saw any Tea Party leader interviewed who did not readily condemn or at least distance himself from any comparisons between Obama and Hitler when asked. The same cannot be said for AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka, who was asked the question today about the Nazi imagery used in the Wisconsin protests and the comparisons between Gov. Scott Walker, R, and Hitler. In response, he reverted to talking points:
The head of one of the nation's most powerful labor unions did not condemn the violent rhetoric in placards and signs held by union supporters demonstrating in Wisconsin despite two direct attempts Sunday to get him on the record declaring them inappropriate.
On several occasions over the past two weeks of demonstrations in the Wisconsin capital of Madison news media have zeroed in on signs that liken Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and recently ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was twice asked whether he found the tone at the nearly two-week long demonstrations "wrong" or "inappropriate."
Trumka did not answer, instead saying, "We should be sitting down trying to create jobs. ... In Wisconsin, a vast majority of the people think this governor has overreached. His popularity has gone down. They're saying to him, sit down and negotiate; don't do what you've been doing. So he's losing."
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2011/02/main-difference-between-tea-partiers-and-union-protesters##ixzz1FFkZ6pwr
McKeesport board fires teacher suspended for classroom sex
Friday, February 25, 2011
The McKeesport Area School Board this week fired a fourth-grade teacher who admitted to having sex in classrooms.
Angela DiBattista, 55, taught at Cornell Intermediate School but was suspended by the district in 2006 on immorality charges that stemmed from a yearslong affair she had with another teacher.
The board's 6-0 vote Wednesday upheld a recommendation by a hearing officer to fire her. School Directors Mark Holtzman and Christopher Halaszynski were absent. Director Patricia Maksin, a former president of the district's teachers union and a witness during DiBattista's hearing, abstained.
DiBattista and her attorney, Charles LoPresti of Pleasant Hills, could not be reached Thursday.
"The issue is now behind the district. We're not concerned about anything else regarding this matter," district Solicitor Gary Matta said. "Hopefully, Ms. DiBattista has moved on with her life. This was an unfortunate incident for all the parties involved."
DiBattista requested a public dismissal hearing after she was accused of having sex with fellow teacher Patrick Collins and was suspended without pay.
During the hearings, which occurred in several sessions last year, LoPresti said his client carried on a long affair with Collins, also a former president of the local teachers union.
Collins testified he had sex with DiBattista in classrooms on several occasions until their affair ended in 2004. No students were in the classrooms at the time, according to testimony.
DiBattista later accused Collins of harassing her. She testified against Collins in his disciplinary hearing, but he was absolved of charges. He retired in 2006 with a $53,000 benefits package and his teaching certificate. She was offered a retirement package, but declined.
DiBattista can appeal the board's decision to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Read more: McKeesport board fires teacher suspended for classroom sex - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_724562.html?_s_icmp=NetworkHeadlines#ixzz1FDXqWCRR
Benny Hinn Sued for 'Inappropriate Relationship' with Paula White
Relationship with evangelist lands Benny Hinn in hot water with publisher
Police: Man passes own 'wanted' poster, robs again
Police released this photo of a man suspected of robbing the Family Dollar store at 131 W. 38th St. four times. / Photo provided by IMPD
Police say they are on the hunt for a brazen criminal who robbed the same Northside business four times in the past two months.
Thursday, the man walked past his own "wanted" poster to rob the Family Dollar store, 131 W. 38th St., just before 8 p.m., Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Paul Thompson said.
The same man also robbed the store on Jan. 31 and Feb. 9 and on Monday, police said. In those prior robberies, police say, the man pulled a handgun.
The clerk recognized the man from those robberies, Thompson said. Thursday, the man motioned as if he had a weapon, took cash and ran out.
No one was injured, Thompson said.
On February 3, it finally happened: the clock ran out on the Internet as we know it. That was the day that the stash of Internet protocol addresses that are used to identify and locate computers connected to the Internet—the telephone numbers of the online world—was exhausted.
The problem is that the current system for IP addresses, IPv4, uses numeric addresses that are 32 bits long—giving a total of just over four billion potential numbers, which must have seemed like a lot when IPv4 was introduced in 1981. But there are now seven billion people on Earth, and more and more of them—and their devices—are going online all the time. Fortunately, engineers realized the limitations of IPv4 a long time ago and lined up a successor, called IPv6, in 1998. (IPv5 was an experimental system that never went public.)
IPv6 uses 128 bits rather than 32, producing a pool of numbers that is staggeringly huge—some 3.4 x 10 to the 38, or 48 octillion addresses for every person on Earth. The trouble is that although most servers and all major operating systems have adopted support for IPv6, Internet service providers have been agonizingly slow to follow suit.
For ISPs, it's a straightforward business dilemma: the two addressing schemes are not directly compatible, which means it would take a significant investment to let IPv4 users connect to IPv6 services. And having relied on the same system for as long as 30 years, they may not feel the need to change.
"It really highlights the failure of the Net at the most basic level to innovate, despite the fact that at the visible levels, it has had unbelievable innovation," says Jon Crowcroft, Marconi professor at the University of Cambridge's computer lab.
He points out that the current concerns about IPv4 space don't really affect those who already have an address—only those who need new numbers. So it is a minor problem for ISPs that have already stockpiled blocks of IPv4 addresses.
"Why does anyone with IPv4 space care? It's all working, and there's been no big, terrible disaster," Crowcroft says. "But it will be interesting to watch how this slow degradation of things [affects] new entrants."
"New entrants," in this case, could mean nations with rapidly expanding online populations. Such countries may face significant trouble if their allocation of IPv4 addresses fails to keep up with their appetite for connectivity. Countries like China are already beginning to concentrate on IPv6 support, with the result that parts of the Internet are being created that are, effectively, inaccessible from the parts of the world that only use IPv4.
While the idea of Internet balkanization might sound disturbing, in practice this is still not a pressing issue for ISPs in the West. There is, however, one area where Western nations might begin to feel the squeeze: the "Internet of things."
The Internet of things is a vision of a world where many more devices can, and will, be connected to the network. Many of us are already familiar with ecosystems of interconnected devices—computers, printers, mobile phones, and even TV sets—that each have their own identity and yet all exist as individual nodes of a wider system.
The Internet of things takes that concept several steps further: it suggests that almost any object—potentially every manufactured object on the planet—could one day have its place in this system. Advocates foresee a world where everything from your clothes to your car to your cup of coffee can be uniquely labeled as a node on the Internet.
Why? Because with the Internet of things, if you lose your keys, the network tells you where they are. Your running shoes tell you when they've gone past their optimum mileage the second it happens. Businesses would be able to tell where every product they sell is located. Farms could use irrigation equipment that "talks" to soil sensors to determine how much water is required in each part of a field.
It might sound extravagant, but the shift toward such a world has already begun.
Because of rapid mobile adoption and the spread of technologies such as radio-frequency identification, Ericsson Labs predicts that 50 billion connections will be required by 2020—tough to achieve under IPv4 but well within the reach of IPv6.
But even with the looming Internet of things, IPv4 may still stick around. Even though all IPv4 addresses have been allocated, they aren't all active. We could see secondary markets for address space develop, particularly among those businesses and universities which—typically by accident—own vast chunks of IPv4 space that go largely unused.
There are other ways to keep IPv4 viable for some time. A technical solution such as network address translation, for example, takes a single public IP address and splits it among many private addresses— allowing devices inside, say, a home or office network to connect to the Internet without their own unique IP addresses.
So even if IPv6 remains out of favor with ISPs, the Internet of things may still arrive. That will please its fans, but should not calm their fears entirely. After all, says Crowcroft, choosing inelegant solutions today will come with costs further down the line. "There are lots of workarounds, and we can do more of that," he says. "The big problem is that when things go wrong, debugging the Internet is [expletive]."
Newt Gingrich Discusses Potential Obama Impeachment
02/25/11 06:42 PM
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Friday that President Obama had overstepped his constitutional authority with his recent decision to order his administration to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act. While the move didn't immediately open Obama up to impeachment, Gingrich claimed, it did raise his worry about a future constitutional crisis.
In an interview with Newsmax, Gingrich characterized the president's latest announcement regarding DOMA, a law that allows states to not honor gay marriages, as "a dereliction of duty and a violation of his constitutional oath" that "cannot be allowed to stand."
On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said Obama had determined that his administration would no longer defend a law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, but that it would continue to be enforced pending an actual legislative overturn.
Gingrich on Friday said that this plan of action was unacceptable.
"He swore an oath on the Bible to become president that he would uphold the Constitution and enforce the laws of the United States," Gingrich said. "He is not a one-person Supreme Court. The idea that we now have the rule of Obama instead of the rule of law should frighten everybody."
While Obama was sheltered by the left, which "likes the policy," Gingrich claimed, he proposed another situation that he suggested would have caused much more clamor.
"Imagine that Governor Palin had become president," Gingrich said. "Imagine that she had announced that Roe versus Wade in her view was unconstitutional and therefore the United States government would no longer protect anyone's right to have an abortion because she personally had decided it should be changed. The news media would have gone crazy. The New York Times would have demanded her impeachment."
He then provided a potential legislative solution based on his belief that what the president was doing was unconstitutional.
"I believe the House Republicans next week should pass a resolution instructing the president to enforce the law and to obey his own constitutional oath, and they should say if he fails to do so that they will zero out [defund] the office of attorney general and take other steps as necessary until the president agrees to do his job," Gingrich said.
False Imprisonment Charges Dropped Against Eustis Nun
Posted: 10:51 am EST February 25, 2011
Updated: 11:05 am EST February 25, 2011
LINK TO VIDEO AND PREVIOUS STORY:
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Even GOP activists are turning against Sarah Palin
Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: February 24, 2011 07:05:31 PM
ROCK HILL, S.C. — As Sarah Palin wonders whether to run for president, she might want to talk to people in places such as South Carolina.
She'd find her star fading, and her prospects daunting.
Republicans still like her, but now they openly question whether she could or should be nominated for president, let alone elected.
At a recent gathering in South Carolina, the site of a crucial early presidential primary next year, party activists said the former Alaska governor didn't have the experience, the knowledge of issues or the ability to get beyond folksy slang and bumper-sticker generalities that they think is needed to win and govern.
Many are shopping for someone else. They're looking at Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., for example, and seeing what they call a smarter, more experienced candidate who's equally as conservative.
"Sarah Palin with a brain," said Gail Moore, a Republican from Columbia.
While national polls show that Palin still would win the support of about one in five Republicans in a national face-off today for the nomination, she no longer can claim the dominant role she enjoyed when she burst out of the 2008 campaign as the undisputed star of the party. She's also losing ground quickly among independents, who hold the keys to the White House.
"Her major weakness is that she needs to bone up on how the government works," said Don Long, a retiree from Lake Wylie, S.C. "I don't know if she's done as much of that as she needs to."
Long was one of about 150 Republicans who showed up for a fundraising dinner of the York County Republican Party, where they ate barbecued pork sandwiches from Bats BBQ — "You'll love the way we rub your butt" — and talked presidential politics.
Many already had seen potential candidates in person, such as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and came this time to hear Bachmann.
In interviews, most volunteered criticism of Palin.
"I like Palin," said Joseph Kejr, a Republican from Rock Hill who works in information technology for a Christian ministry. However, he added, "she's not polished in national government. In terms of leadership, I don't know about her."
"I'm not a big Sarah Palin fan," said Joe Thompson of York, who manages a small business and is the president of the South Carolina District 5 Patriots, a group devoted to the Constitution and against big government spending, taxes and programs. "I like her ideas. I'm not sure she'd be able to manage a lot of things she'd have to handle as president."
"She's not really creative," said Swain Shepperd, a retiree from Rock Hill. "She just repeats what's already been said by others."
Some said she hurt herself by quitting halfway through her term as governor of Alaska, robbing herself of a platform in government.
That shortfall's become more glaring as party activists have cheered on people who are now governing and fighting to cut spending, such as Govs. Chris Christie in New Jersey, Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Rick Scott in Florida and Scott Walker in Wisconsin, as well as Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives such as Bachmann.
Also, Palin could have problems beyond the party. Polls show that the more the American public has seen of Palin, the less they've liked her.
Since she lit up the national stage in the fall of 2008 as the party's plain-talking vice presidential nominee, the ranks of people who have favorable impressions of her have dropped and the number with an unfavorable impression has spiked.
A Gallup poll taken in September 2008, for example, found that 53 percent had favorable views of her and 28 percent held unfavorable views. Last month, the same poll found the numbers were almost reversed, 38-53.
Even worse for GOP activists, she looks weak against President Barack Obama, a crucial factor for Republicans yearning for a champion who can oust the Democrat from the White House.
A recent McClatchy-Marist poll found that Obama would trounce her by 56-30 percent if the election were held now.
That was by far the weakest among three big-name Republicans tested; Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee each fared better against Obama. And it was considerably weaker than her standing just a month before, when she trailed Obama by 52-40 percent.
The key reason: She's lost support among independents, and she gets far less support from that swing bloc than the other two Republicans tested do.
It's been a surprising turn since 2008, said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducts the McClatchy-Marist Poll. Despite a barrage of criticism of Palin by Democrats and the news media, she came out of the election looking as if she'd be the major force for the party's nomination.
"She doesn't appeal to the center, and she hasn't been trying to," Miringoff said.
"There's a general sense among Republicans that this is someone they like being part of the 2012 narrative," Miringoff said. "They don't mind her pushing the edge of the envelope on issues. But there's concern about electability, about polarization. They're not necessarily sure she should be the nominee."
Temecula burglar leaves calling card
10:56 PM PST on Sunday, February 13, 2011
Identifying the suspect in a recent tire-theft caper in Temecula required a bit of work for investigators, but no great powers of deduction.
"World's dumbest criminals," said the victim of the theft, Rich Richardson, owner of Best for Less Tire Pros. "I think he could qualify for that."
A man was caught on surveillance cameras removing tires from Richardson's business while driving a van that -- unfortunately for him -- was emblazoned with "Jeff Tires" and his cell phone number, court records state.
Jeffrey Lewis Yancey, 32, also known as Jeff Yance Lewis, of Rancho Cucamonga, has pleaded not guilty to burglary and property fraud. He has several prior convictions, court records show. His attorney could not be reached for comment Friday because of the holiday.
Investigators arrested Yancey last month after they went to his home on the ruse of purchasing tires from him, Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin McDonald said.
They simply called to arrange the meeting, McDonald said.
"After all, we had his phone number."
Richardson said he arrived at his Via Montezuma business the morning of Jan. 17 to discover the padlock removed from his used-tire storage container and more than a dozen tires missing.
Reviewing surveillance camera footage from around 4 a.m. that day, he clearly saw an older two-tone van with "Jeff Tires" and a phone number on the side pulling up to the container.
The driver, who police later identified as Yancey, can be seen in the video retrieving bolt cutters from the van, then tossing them into a trailer attached to it. Another man can be seen throwing tires into the trailer.
Investigators learned that the phone number belonged to Yancey and matched his driver's license photo with surveillance images of the van driver, court records state. They also discovered that, when Yancey had been arrested in the past, he had listed his occupation as "Tire Sales," the documents state.
A search of Yancey's home uncovered stolen tires, bolt cutters and a methamphetamine pipe, court records show.
McDonald said investigators suspect Yancey in similar thefts of used tires, including a burglary reported Jan. 19 at 5 Brothers Tire and Service on Jefferson Avenue in Temecula. In that case, 40 tires worth about $2,000 were stolen. But that theft was not captured on video.
Richardson said that, while he was upset his business was targeted, he can appreciate the humor. With a look of disbelief, he shook his head.
"It's so stupid, it's funny."
LINK TO SURVEILLANCE VIDEO:
February 25, 2011 5:05 PM
SANTA ANA (CBS) — Orange County sheriff’s deputies arrested a man Friday accusing him of making more than 2,000 obscene phone calls over the past year.
Officials say Israel Vasquez, who has been deported twice, called 911 operators and would make “obscene and sex-laden” conversation, according to Orange County sheriff’s spokesperson Jim Amormino.
Vasquez was in custody on an immigration hold and is expected to face charges of making obscene phone calls to female 911 dispatchers since last March, Amormino added.
“He would call 911 operators at Garden Grove police, California Highway Patrol offices, the Orange County sheriff and possibly other law enforcement agencies,” Amormino said. “If a male 911 operator answered, he wouldn’t say anything, hang up and call back hoping a woman would answer.”
One dispatcher fielded about 1,000 of the calls alone, Amormino said.
Shortly after Vasquez allegedly made another obscene call to 911 Friday, deputies were able to trace it to where Vasquez was living in Stanton and arrested him, Amormino said. Deputies found eight cell phones in his home, the spokesman added.
The caller was able to evade authorities by repeatedly registering new cell phones to multiple identities, Amormino said. Also, by the time the calls were traced, the suspect was gone, he said.
LINK TO VIDEO AND PHOTO OF VASQUEZ:
Two accused of using stun gun to discipline 13-year-old Tampa boy
Times Staff Writer
Posted: Feb 23, 2011 10:01 AM
TAMPA — Two people were accused of child abuse after police said they repeatedly used a stun gun to discipline a 13-year-old.
Christopher Roosevelt Lewis, 22, relative and caretaker of the boy, bought a stun gun a week ago. Since then, he and Deonjhane "Amy" Menifield, 19, used it to discipline him.
The 13-year-old told an employee at his school, and police found visible marks matching a stun gun on the victim's upper thigh. Police arrested the suspects Tuesday night at their home and charged them both with child abuse.
When police contacted Lewis, the boy's relative and caretaker, he took off a jacket, revealing a 12-inch hunting knife. That led to a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.
Child Protective Investigations officials took custody of the boy. Police would not describe the relationship between Lewis and the boy.
[Last modified: Feb 23, 2011 02:02 PM]
Christopher Lewis, 22, and Deonijhane (Amy) Menifield, 19, of Tampa, Fla., were arrested after they allegedly used a Taser to 'discipline' a 13-year-old boy in their care.
Trump trailing Obama by a hair in recent poll and billionaire developer says he isn't surprised
Saturday, February 26th 2011, 4:00 AM
Watts/NewsDonald Trump pondered a Reform Party run for the presidency during the 2000 election.
Donald Trump says the nation's best and brightest rarely seek public office anymore - although he knows just the guy to buck that trend: Donald Trump.
"People always say the strongest, smartest, most successful people never run," Trump told the Daily News this week. "I may have to test that theory. The country really needs it."
Trump, whose name seems to routinely surface when the presidential race begins, said he wasn't stunned by a Newsweek/Daily Beast poll showing he trailed President Obama by just 2 points.
"I wasn't as surprised as some many people," the billionaire developer said. "I do think the numbers are amazing. The President is campaigning. I'm not even campaigning.
"Zero dollars, zero campaigning, and I'm two points behind."
The poll found Obama barely beating Trump in a head-to-head matchup, just 43% to 41%.
Those numbers, combined with Trump's well-received speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee, hyped speculation about The Donald making a move on the White House.
A Draft Trump 2012 Committee was launched via the Internet, declaring its hopes of landing the Queens native on the ballot in some early battleground states.
As for the incumbent, Trump offered criticism similar to his shots at Obama before the CPAC conference earlier this month.
"You've had somebody like Obama running for President, and he never really did anything," said Trump, 64.
Trump - although a political apprentice - first raised his presidential ambitions back in 1988.
He pondered a Reform Party run for the 2000 election, but has yet to put his name on the ballot for any public office.
Trump said his appeal is simple: "People are sick of getting pushed around, and being a whipping post for the world.
"If I ever did run, and I ever won, it would be a bad day for a lot of countries ripping us off," he added.
Although Trump has become increasingly outspoken about the White House and foreign policy, he still has yet to make up his mind about a run for the presidency.
"I don't know," Trump said. "But when the best people and the most qualified people can't run, that's sad commentary on this country."
Democrats just don't understand the new populism
Timothy P. Carney
02/23/11 8:05 PM
Senior Political Columnist
Andrew Breitbart addresses a Tea Party rally at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, during the fifth day or large scale protests.-Andy Manis/APThe Obama campaign and other liberals are looking to tap into the populist current of today's politics and turn the Wisconsin union fight into a national issue in the 2012 election. While the liberals can wield rhetorical pitchforks and light political torches, they should realize that it's their guys who are living inside the castle today. Specifically, public-sector unions -- by many measures the most entrenched special interest in American politics -- are not fighting against The Man, which is to say the entrenched powers of government. In this struggle, The Man is the government unions, which are sitting in the smoky back room divvying up the spoils of a crooked racket. And cronyism -- not wealth -- is the object of today's populist ire.
The Left has misread the postbailout populist sentiment all along, assuming public anger was directed at the rich. But American anger, I suspect, is directed not at some people who have money or success, but at those who profit through cronyism and their connections to power.
In other words, anti-bailout anger is not anger at the rich, but anger at those unfairly getting rich -- at the taxpayer's expense.
The Obama administration was startled in March 2009 when Americans exploded with anger at AIG executives -- living off the taxpayer dime -- who pocketed huge bonuses. There was plenty of anti-Wall Street feeling, and (to the confusion and consternation of liberals) it helped Republicans win many congressional races in 2010. Democrats apparently learned the wrong lessons.
Just after the election, public sentiment didn't favor the Democratic efforts to reinstate the old death tax -- which only affects the upper class. Class warfare talk didn't help the Left's efforts to increase taxes on the rich.
Even so, Obama's Democratic National Committee now thinks it has the winning hand in the labor scuffles that began in Wisconsin this month. In the view of the Left, the Democrats are standing with the working man against the greedy. The acrid Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times that government unions provide a "counterweight to the political power of big money."
Hard facts utterly contradict Krugman's claim. First, unions are "Big Money." Of the top 10 sources of political contributions since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, five are unions. Of the top 20 sources of 2010 campaign funds, 10 are unions.
And the notion that Big Labor is cancelling out Big Business -- well, that's a Big Lie, too. The 10 industries that contributed the most during the 2010 elections -- from Wall Street to government unions -- all gave more to Democrats than to Republicans.
The top donor to House and Senate campaigns in the 2010 elections -- the Service Employees International Union -- is otherwise known as "Obama's Union." The company that spent the most on lobbying in 2010 -- General Electric -- is also known as "the for-profit arm of the Obama Administration."
In the retrograde liberal way of thinking, though, populism is about class warfare, in which the wealthy and corporations are the "special interests" arrayed against the poor working man. But in today's Wisconsin skirmish, the "working man" is implausibly the Wisconsin Education Association, the third-largest political donor in the state last election cycle.
Union-funded lawmakers take money from taxpayers and give it the government unions, who kick some of it back to union-funded lawmakers. It's not too different from banks or defense contractors donating to politicians who bail them out or give them no-bid contracts.
As long as Democrats think they're on the side of "the people" because the unions agree with them, they're politically lost.
What about the Republicans? What is their fight with the unions really about?
Is Krugman partly right? Are Republicans just trying to defund a Democratic piggy bank? Or are GOP politicians really trying to bust up immoral rackets?
If the latter, Beltway Republicans' next target should be subsidy sucklers and bailout bandits. Recent House votes striking at ethanol subsidies and the military-industrial complex are a good first step. Killing other green-energy rackets, export subsidies, and all forms of corporate welfare should be the goal, for both Congress and Republican presidential hopefuls.
Democratic wins in 2006 and 2008 were fueled by a populism sparked by Jack Abramoff and Wall Street bailouts. Republican wins in 2010 were powered by Tea Party populism angry about bailouts and Washington game playing.
The same anti-elite sentiment could persist in 2012. Democrats' nationalizing of Wisconsin shows they misunderstand it. Now it's Republicans' turn to show they can hear the voice of the people.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/02/democrats-wage-populist-fight-against-their-allies##ixzz1Exj4zHEa
Dispute over noisy kids gets bride bounced from courthouse
Janice Doane was all dolled up in a black-and-white gown she wore Thursday for her wedding ceremony at the Hamilton County Courthouse.
But some attitude and hurt feelings resulted not only in Doane not getting married, but also in getting her thrown out of the courthouse with her fiancé and four kids in tow.
"I've been here 18 years, baby. This is a first," said Percy Milton, a Clerk of Courts employee who witnessed the incident.
Doane, 27, of Colerain Township, got her marriage license Thursday and went to the courthouse with her fiancé, Luis Fabian Ruiz, and her children.
While waiting for Municipal Court Judge Ted Berry to perform the ceremony, Doane, Ruiz and the children waited in the hall. But the children created such a racket running up and down the halls and screaming, Berry said other workers on the floor complained.
Berry's pregnant bailiff, Jamie Coates-Donohue, went into the hall a couple of times to ask for quiet. The last time, she asked one child to calm down.
That set off Doane, who thought it improper for the bailiff to directly address her child.
"She wasn't woman enough to tell me to my face," Doane said.
Coates-Donohue insisted she wasn't rude to Doane, she just wanted her to keep her children from disrupting court proceedings.
"She said, 'Don't tell me what to do,' " the bailiff said.
Doane insists her child was needlessly scared by the bailiff.
"I told her, 'What you did was wrong,' " Doane said. "I told her I didn't want to hear anything else she had to say and to get out of my face.
"(She) should have handled it professionally instead of like someone off the streets."
The bailiff suggested Doane would listen to the judge and summoned Berry.
"She was very rude to my bailiff," Berry said. "She's my bailiff. She's an arm of the court."
Doane and Ruiz have been together for 10 years, Doane said, and have been anxiously awaiting their wedding day.
"For that to happen to me today just broke my heart," Doane said. "They just politely threw me out."
Every 14 weeks, each Municipal Court judge is the "duty" judge, responsible for duties that include performing wedding ceremonies that can include walk-ins. Doane was scheduled to be married at 2 p.m. but was thrown out of the courthouse before then.
"We're not refusing to marry her," Berry said. "She can come back next week."
Doane said she planned to hire someone to perform the ceremony Thursday night.
Berry is no stranger to controversy.
In a July 10, 2007, court case, Berry ordered Ivan Boykins to spend 30 days in jail. An upset Boykins responded by telling the judge "f--- you." Berry responded to Boykins using the same phrase.
Surgery saves girl's face from rare disorder
February 25, 2011 8:20 a.m. EST
When Christine Honeycutt was five years old, one side of her face seemed to mysteriously stop growing.
(Health.com) -- The line in the middle of Christine Honeycutt's forehead was barely noticeable at first. It was a faint gray smudge, just a half-inch long from top to bottom.
"It looked like she ran into a doorjamb, which kids do," says Christine's mother, Vicki. But the five-year-old swore she'd done no such thing.
When she looked closer, Vicki also noticed what appeared to be a small bruise or birthmark on the left side of her daughter's neck. That, too, seemed like nothing, but when the marks didn't go away after a couple of weeks, Vicki took Christine to the doctor.
"It's just a discoloration," the pediatrician said, giving Vicki a cream. "Keep her out of the sun and put this on it."
The cream didn't work. Five months later, the gray line was still there -- and it now extended halfway down Christine's forehead.
The Honeycutts consulted a second doctor -- this time in southern California, where the family had recently moved from Charlotte, North Carolina -- and received the same advice. Vicki wasn't reassured, but she wasn't unduly worried, either. Christine was otherwise healthy, and she seemed to be enjoying kindergarten at her new school.
Then, in first grade, Christine started inexplicably gaining weight and suffered a violent seizure at home one evening, losing consciousness and convulsing. The ER doctors who treated her concluded that the seizure had been brought on by the 102-degree fever she'd been running, but Vicki suspected it wasn't that simple.
A surprising diagnosis
\Within a few months of the seizure, the line on Christine's forehead stretched down to her eyebrow and looked more like an indentation than a shadow. People were noticing. One of Christine's teachers told her to wipe the ink off her forehead. "I can't," she replied. "It's always there."
There were other troubling signs: One side of Christine's forehead was normal, but the other was "meaty," Vicki recalls. And her ears looked out of proportion to one another -- an asymmetry that seemed to extend over her entire face.
"One side of her face looked like a baby," Vicki says. "It looked like one side of her face was growing and the other was not."
As it turns out, that's exactly what was happening.
In 2008, two and a half years after the line first appeared on Christine's face, a geneticist who specializes in facial deformities finally diagnosed her with Parry-Romberg syndrome, an extremely rare autoimmune disorder that affects roughly one in a million people. Christine's own immune system had turned against her so that one side of her face was developing normally while the other side was slowly but surely deteriorating.
Parry-Romberg syndrome, also known as progressive facial hemiatrophy, was first identified in the early 1800s. It usually starts in childhood and gets worse with time, and it seems to be more common in girls. (Although Christine was diagnosed by a geneticist, the condition does not appear to be inherited.) In addition to the distinctive atrophy that occurs on one side of a patient's face, it can also cause seizures and other neurological problems.
The indented line in Christine's forehead -- a feature found in about one-quarter of people with facial hemiatrophy -- is known as coup de sabre, a French phrase that translates as "cut of a saber" and evokes a scar that someone who has sustained a gash in a sword fight might be left with.
After Christine was diagnosed, Vicki went home and looked up Parry-Romberg on the Internet. What she saw was not comforting. "There were horrifying pictures," she says. "One side [of a patient's face] was a skeleton and the other side wasn't."
A bleak prognosis
There is no cure for Parry-Romberg syndrome. Nor are there any proven treatments, although drugs that suppress the immune system have been shown to be beneficial in some cases.
For two years after Christine's diagnosis, the Honeycutts consulted expert after expert, and all of them told the family that not only was there no cure, but Christine could not have her face reconstructed until the disease stopped progressing, which could take years. By that time, the underlying facial bones might also be affected.
"This was mind-blowing," Vicki says. "She's going to go through adolescence with her face destroyed then they're going to reconstruct it?" That wasn't good enough for Vicki. Christine was now 11 years old, on the brink of a stage in life that can be tumultuous for even the healthiest and most ordinary kids.
So Vicki contacted Dr. John Siebert, M.D., a plastic surgeon whose name she'd come across during her online research. A professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, Siebert specializes in microsurgery and has operated on about 400 patients with facial asymmetry over the past two decades, 140 of them with Parry-Romberg.
He looked at photos of Christine and agreed to operate in November 2010. The Honeycutts made plans to travel to Wisconsin.
"Like building a teddy bear"
The surgery took about seven hours. Siebert and his team transplanted tissue -- complete with functioning blood vessels -- from under Christine's left arm and inserted it under her face via an incision in front of her ear.
"It's like building a teddy bear," Siebert says. "The skin and the fur is all there. My job is to give the stuffing to bring out its natural form or shape." His goal in these surgeries, he adds, is to "sculpt" the transplanted tissue and integrate it with the healthy tissue on the other side of a patient's face "smoothly and gradually, so it looks like it was there all along."
The relocated tissue will grow along with Christine as she matures, Siebert says -- although he can't explain how. It could be that the transplanted tissue and blood vessels restore normal blood supply to the damaged side of the face and allow the cells of different tissues to "talk to each other" in ways that prevent further atrophy, he says.
Some Parry-Romberg experts are skeptical that the procedure can actually reverse the course of the disease and prevent damage to the underlying bone and muscle. But Siebert says he has rarely had to perform a second surgery, which, he says, would probably be needed if the disease continued to progress.
Back to school
Christine will undergo a brief procedure to fine-tune the tissue in her jaw this summer, and she'll have to visit Dr. Siebert's office every five or six months after that.
She has a scar that stretches from her underarm to her shoulder, an incision mark on her neck, and, three months after the surgery, her face is still a bit swollen. But she's going to school again and is starting to feel like she's returning to normal.
"I like my nose better now," she says.
Chick-Fil-A: FREE Fries on March 4, 2011
On Friday, March 4, 2011 you can get a FREE medium order of waffle fries between 2:00pm and 4:00pm when you ask for Heinz Dip & Squeeze and mention the Free Dry Day Promotion.
Limit one per customer.
Available at participating Chick-fil-A locations, so you might want to call ahead to make sure your local store is participating before making a special trip!
Updated: 7:29 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Posted: 7:28 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
"Car Surfing," or "Ghost Riding" as it is also known, has taken roads by storm, turning dangerous highways into deadly ones.
One man is saying it needs to stop. He spent three months in the hospital. After numerous surgeries and therapy sessions, he now wants to spread the word about this popular but dangerous tren
It was suppose to be for fun, but fun turned into tragedy after an almost-fatal accident.
20-year-old Andrew Collazo fell off the roof of a car while attempting to car surf with his friends.
Car surfing is where one person climbs onto the roof of a car and begins to "surf" as if they were on water.
Andrew doesn't remeber the accident that cracked his skull. He says after numerous surgeries, he was like a newborn baby. He had to learn how to talk, speak, walk, all over again. He also had to re-learn his parents, and family members.
The stunt has become a YouTube sensation. The video was made right here in Palm Beach County on I-95 by Tim Wehage and his friend P.J.
"Not at all we are not promoting car surfing," says Tim Wehage.
Their copycat idea sparked after seeing video of another YouTube guy car surfing and playing the guitar. Both videos are said to be fake.
"He just wanted to see if he could do it because he recently bought programs that would let him do that," says Wehage.
Andrew's father says no matter how fake the videos are, some people like his son, take what is fake and make it real.
It's this dangerous thrill that cost Andrew not only time but also nearly cost him his life.
"Think twice about going out to recreate these stunts," says Andrew's father
"I would say don't try it. It could lead to death," says Colazzo.
Car surfing is not only dangerous, but illegal. Andrew's father says the teen who was behind the wheel at the time of the accident would have faced manslaughter charges if Andrew had died.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Charlie Sheen blasts 'Two and a Half Men' creator Chuck Lorre after production on show shut downNancy Dillon
Originally Published:Thursday, February 24th 2011, 7:19 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 24th 2011, 10:09 PM
Ut/APCharlie Sheen had some harsh words for the Chuck Lorre, creator behind his hit CBS sitcom, 'Two and a Half Men.'
LOS ANGELES - CBS canceled production of "Two and a Half Men" for the rest of the season Thursday, quickly striking back at Charlie Sheen's venomous rant against the hit show's creator.
The hard partying star called his sitcom boss Chuck Lorre a "clown," "turd" - and a "contaminated little maggot." And he inexplicably harped on Lorre's Jewish birth name - "Chaim Levine."
"Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen's statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television have decided to discontinue production of 'Two and a Half Men' for the remainder of the season," the companies said in a statement released Thursday.
An undaunted Sheen immediately struck back in an open letter to TMZ.com.
"What does this say about Haim Levine after he tried to use his words to judge and attempt to degrade me," Sheen wrote.
"I gracefully ignored this folly for 177 shows ... I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can't handle my power and can't handle the truth," he went on. "I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels especially if they wind up in my octagon."
He boasted that he had "defeated this earthworm with my words" and implied that Lorre is lucky he didn't use his "fire breathing fists."
He implored his fans to rally around him.
"I urge all my beautiful and loyal fans who embraced this show for almost a decade to walk with me side-by-side as we march up the steps of justice to right this unconscionable wrong," Sheen wrote.
Hours earlier, Sheen, in a shocking and wide-ranging interview on a Los Angeles radio station, also insisted he can heal his addictions with his mind.
He declared he didn't need the "cult" of Alcoholics Anonymous, calling its many members a bunch of "sissies."
"I have a disease? Bull----. I cured it with my brain," he said, adding that he preferred the company of his girlfriends - a porn star and a marijuana magazine covergirl - to the "bootleg cult."
"I'm dealing with fools and trolls," Sheen said, describing the backlash to his recent party spiral.
"They lay down with their ugly wives in front of their ugly children and just look at their loser lives and then they look at me and say 'I can't process it," he told controversial radio host Alex Jones.
Jones, who believes 9/11 was an inside government job, was speechless.
Sheen then blasted Lorre for imposing a month-long production hiatus so the actor could recover from a bender than put him in the hospital.
"I embarrassed him in front of his children and the world by healing at a pace that his un-evolved mind cannot process," he said. "I've spent close to the last decade, I don't know, effortlessly and magically converting (his) tin cans into pure gold."
It was an incendiary allegation — and a mystery of great intrigue in the media world: After the publishing powerhouse Judith Regan was fired by HarperCollins in 2006, she claimed that a senior executive at its parent company, News Corporation, had encouraged her to lie two years earlier to federal investigators who were vetting Bernard B. Kerik for the job of homeland security secretary.
A News Corporation spokesman said Roger E. Ailes did not intend to influence Ms. Regan regarding an investigation.
Ms. Regan had once been involved in an affair with Mr. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner whose mentor and supporter, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, was in the nascent stages of a presidential campaign. The News Corporation executive, whom she did not name, wanted to protect Mr. Giuliani and conceal the affair, she said.
Now, court documents filed in a lawsuit make clear whom Ms. Regan was accusing of urging her to lie: Roger E. Ailes, the powerful chairman of Fox News and a longtime friend of Mr. Giuliani. What is more, the documents say that Ms. Regan taped the telephone call from Mr. Ailes in which Mr. Ailes discussed her relationship with Mr. Kerik.
It is unclear whether the existence of the tape played a role in News Corporation’s decision to move quickly to settle a wrongful termination suit filed by Ms. Regan, paying her $10.75 million in a confidential settlement reached two months after she filed it in 2007.
Depending on the specifics, the taped conversation could possibly rise to the level of conspiring to lie to federal officials, a federal crime, but prosecutors rarely pursue such cases, said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia University law professor and a former federal prosecutor.
Of course, if it were to be released, the tape could be highly embarrassing to Mr. Ailes, a onetime adviser to Richard M. Nixon whom critics deride as a partisan who engineers Fox News coverage to advance Republicans and damage Democrats, something Fox has long denied. Mr. Ailes also had close ties with Mr. Giuliani, whom he advised in his first mayoral race. Mr. Giuliani officiated at Mr. Ailes’s wedding and intervened on his behalf when Fox News Channel was blocked from securing a cable station in the city.
In a statement released on Wednesday, a News Corporation spokeswoman did not deny that Mr. Ailes was the executive on the recording. But the spokeswoman, Teri Everett, said News Corporation had a letter from Ms. Regan “stating that Mr. Ailes did not intend to influence her with respect to a government investigation.” Ms. Everett added, “The matter is closed.”
Ms. Everett declined to release the letter, and Ms. Regan’s lawyer, Robert E. Brown, said the News Corporation’s description of the letter did not represent Ms. Regan’s complete statement.
The new documents emerged as part of a lawsuit filed in 2008 in which Ms. Regan’s former lawyers in the News Corporation case accused her of firing them on the eve of the settlement to avoid paying them a 25 percent contingency fee. The parties in that case signed an agreement to keep the records confidential, but it does not appear that an order sealing them was ever sent to the clerk at State Supreme Court in Manhattan, and the records were placed in the public case file.
Discussion of the recorded conversation with Mr. Ailes emerges in affidavits from Ms. Regan’s former lawyers who are seeking to document the work they did on her case and for which they argue they deserve the contingency fee. They describe consulting with a forensic audio expert about the tape.
No transcript of the conversation is in the court records.
But Brian C. Kerr, one of Ms. Regan’s former lawyers, describes in an affidavit the physical evidence he reviewed as “including a tape recording of a conversation between her and Roger Ailes, which is alluded to throughout the complaint” that Mr. Kerr and another lawyer, Seth Redniss, drafted for Ms. Regan. That complaint said News Corporation executives “were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik.”
“In fact,” the complaint said, “a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”
Mr. Redniss, in his affidavit, referred to “a recorded telephone call between Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News (a News Corp. company) and Regan, in which Mr. Ailes discussed with Regan her responses to questions regarding her personal relationship with Bernard Kerik.”
“The ‘Ailes’ matter became a focal point of our work,” Mr. Redniss continued.
The dispute involves a cast of well-known and outsize personalities; it also includes some New Yorkers who have had spectacular career meltdowns.
Mr. Kerik was sent to prison last year after pleading guilty to federal charges including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.
The law firm Ms. Regan hired to draft her complaint against News Corporation was headed by Marc S. Dreier, whose firm was cast into bankruptcy in 2008 when he was charged with a $100 million fraud scheme. The firm’s suit seeking the contingency fee from Ms. Regan is being led by the bankruptcy trustee handling the dissolution of the firm. Mr. Redniss was a co-counsel to the Dreier firm.
Ms. Regan’s own crash was remarkable in itself. While often controversial for her book choices, which ranged from literary novels to sex advice from a pornography star, her imprint at HarperCollins had become one of the more financially successful in the business.
The end came quickly in late 2006. Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation chairman, was quoted saying it had been “ill advised” for her to pursue “If I Did It,” a hypothetical murder confession byO.J. Simpson. A novel that included imagined drunken escapades by Mickey Mantle drew another round of outrage.
Then News Corporation said Ms. Regan had been fired because she made an anti-Semitic remark to a Jewish HarperCollins lawyer, Mark H. Jackson, in describing the internal campaign to fire her as a “Jewish cabal.”
In her 2007 suit, Ms. Regan said the book controversies had been trumped up and the anti-Semitic remark invented to discredit her, should she ever speak out about Mr. Kerik in ways that would harm Mr. Giuliani’s image. The new court documents expand upon that charge and link it to Mr. Ailes. Mr. Redniss wrote in an affidavit that Ms. Regan told him that Mr. Ailes sought to brand her as promiscuous and crazy.
“Regan believed that Ailes and News Corp. subsidiary Fox News had an interest in protecting Giuliani’s bid for the U.S. presidency,” he wrote.
In addition to serving as chairman of Fox News, Mr. Ailes has taken a broader role at News Corporation, including oversight of Fox’s local television stations and Fox Business Network.
As part of the settlement in January 2008, News Corporation publicly retracted the allegation that Ms. Regan had made an anti-Semitic remark to Mr. Jackson.
The court records examined by The New York Times this week, which have subsequently been taken out of the public case file, also reveal another interesting footnote. After Ms. Regan fired her lawyers, a seemingly unlikely figure came forward to help settle the case: Susan Estrich, a law professor and a regular Fox commentator whose book Ms. Regan had published, according to Ms. Regan’s affidavit.
William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.
For conservatives, Michelle Obama is fair game
Except for an ill-advised trip to an expensive Spanish resort last summer, Michelle Obama has escaped much of the criticism that has been directed at her husband, keeping a relatively low-profile while primarily focusing on childhood obesity, military families and the arts.
During her first two years in the White House, she was more Laura Bush rather than Hillary Clinton, but that has begun to change. Now, for conservative critics, it is open season on the first lady.
Obama’s admonishments on nutrition and advice on breastfeeding are examples of big government “nanny state” intrusion according to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.); her eating habits are evidence of her hypocrisy, according to Rush Limbaugh; her athletic physique is something to be lampooned on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website, which posted a cartoon showing her as overweight and eating a plate full of hamburgers.
To date, the East Wing has managed to stay above the fray, not wanting to take part in a point-counterpoint kind of debate. But to one academic expert on first ladies, the attacks seem unusually pointed.
“There’s so much anger in the criticism surrounding Michelle Obama,” said Myra Gutin, a Rider University professor who has a biography of Barbara Bush and a book on 20th century first ladies. “It seems almost personal to me.”
Republicans have a simple response: Obama is now fair game because she is playing an increasingly political role in her husband’s administration.
When Obama made a string of campaign stops for Democratic candidates during the 2010 campaign, Republicans generally refrained from any attacks. But many of them point to the first lady’s e-mail to supporters earlier this month announcing the news that Charlotte had been picked as the host city of the 2012 Democratic National Convention as an example of her slow movement onto political turf.
And they say her support for the government playing a bigger role in advancing better nutrition is inherently political. “If the first lady doesn’t want criticism, then she shouldn’t propose policy,” said Republican strategist Mark McKinnon.
“While no one disagrees with encouraging good health, against the backdrop of her husband’s demonstrably invasive and expanding government, the fear is that her encouragement will cross over to government fiat,” said Mary Matalin, a former aide to President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton, who was put in charge of her husband Bill Clinton’s health care initiative shortly after he became president, Obama’s role in health care policy has been minimal. Clinton was an entirely new model of a first lady and quickly became a target of what she called “the vast right wing conspiracy” before dialing back her public involvement in policy after health care crashed and burned.
Republican strategist John Feehery said conservatives may be seizing on the fact that Michelle Obama, like Hillary Clinton, is perceived to be more liberal than her husband. But he sees a difference between the current first lady and Clinton, who was perceived as a “real ideological threat.”
“Michelle Obama isn’t heading up a health care task force,” Feehery said, referring to Clinton. “Michelle Obama is talking about issues that are relatively important. I think she’s a fairly traditional first lady.”
In that sense she has resembled her predecessor, Laura Bush, who promoted literacy and woman’s issues in Afghanistan as first lady, and never attracted much controversy.
“The thought of attacking [Laura Bush] was just not in the mainstream,” said Anita McBride, who served as Bush’s chief of staff. “I can’t really say she took a pounding on anything like this. Sure, she had her missteps but you really didn’t see much criticism. I think people saw her as someone who softened the president.”
Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate, was as accomplished as Clinton when she became first lady, but from the beginning sought a relatively low profile in the White House.
Asked by POLITICO recently asked if it’s a first lady’s role to delve into policy issues, Obama said: “We talked about this when I first came in, and I think every first lady has the right to—or the privilege of determining what their agenda will be and every first lady’s agenda is as different as every first lady.”
In her case, she made childhood obesity her main focus, though recently she has also spent time publicizing the needs of military families. Her kitchen garden and warnings about the dangers of junk food seemed fairly benign – at least in the beginning. But as the first lady began to talk specifics and a more policy-oriented role, her critics saw an opening.
Last summer, when she talked about telling her kids that “dessert is not a right,” it became an instant headline. Palin took a swipe at the line on her reality show as she made s’mores with her daughter. “This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert,” she said.
Around the same time, the first lady took heat for taking the private trip to Spain as unemployment plagued millions of Americans.
Some expected the attacks to continue when she hit the campaign trail to stump for Democrats in the midterm elections last fall. But her role in the campaign did not become an issue.
Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said Obama “became an easier target” by becoming more political recently with the DNC announcement. “She made herself more political and thus fed these kinds of attacks,” he said.
Still, even the Charlotte comments were fairly innocuous.
“Vibrant, diverse and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds,” Obama wrote. “And of course, great barbecue.”
But some Republicans saw the move as political because as one Republican strategist put it, “a party convention is inherently political” and not something a first lady usually deals with.
As Obama marked the first anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign and began to ramp up efforts for the second year, the scrutiny that had largely escaped her became intense.
When the White House served up deep dish pizza and bratwurst at its Super Bowl party earlier this month, Obama was forced to answer questions about why.
“It’s about balance,” she told reporters during a luncheon at the White House earlier this month to mark the first anniversary of Let’s Move! “It’s always been about balance.”
At the luncheon, the first lady briefly mentioned breastfeeding and how children who are nursed “longer have a lower tendency to be obese.”
“We also want to focus on the important touch points in a child’s life. And what we’re learning now is that early intervention is key,” she said.
Her comments received wide coverage. At the same time, the Internal Revenue Service announced that costs for breast pumps would be eligible for tax breaks. And just like that, the story was on The Drudge Report.
The next day, Bachmann took the first swipe, criticizing Obama for trying to implement a “nanny state” based on her push to get mothers to breastfeed their children in order to help combat childhood obesity. Palin joined in two days later, taking a shot at the first lady while blaming her husband’s policies for the rising cost of commodities and items like milk.
“No wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody, ‘You’d better breastfeed your baby,’” she said. In a column, Michelle Malkin also chimed in, saying that the first lady and her “food cops” aren’t “interested in slimming down kids’ waistlines but rather “boosting government and public union payrolls.”
Big Government then ran its cartoon portraying an overweight eating a plate full of hamburgers and French fries. And this week, after the first lady indugled in spareribs with her daughters over the holiday weekend in Colorado, Limbaugh weighed in – like Breitbart – on her appearance.
“I’m trying to say that our first lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you,” Limbaugh said.
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that Limbaugh was the right person to comment “being perhaps the finest example of the male form since Michelangelo sculpted David,” but the White House said nothing.
Not all Republicans think that attacking Obama is smart politics.
“Cheap shots against Michelle Obama are stupid,” Feehery said. “She’s a good first lady and I think that conservatives are better off keeping their focus on President Obama. There’s nothing I’ve seen from Michelle Obama that I’ve found offensive.”
And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has an interest in nutrition thanks to his own struggles with weight, was even more supportive.
“She’s been criticized…out of reflex rather than out of thoughtful expression,” he said Wednesday at a session with reporters in Washington. “It’s exactly what Republicans say they believe, which is you put an emphasis on personal responsibility…I thought that’s what we were about.”
Racial anti-abortion billboard in SoHo comes down amid outrage from pro-choice NYers, black leadersRich Schapiro
Originally Published:Thursday, February 24th 2011, 4:10 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 24th 2011, 4:16 PM
The anti-abortion billboard that claims 'The most dangerous place for African Americans is in the womb,' is coming down - one day after it was put up, sparking local outrage.
A controversial anti-abortion billboard in SoHo equating abortion among black women with genocide is coming down.
The Rev. Al Sharpton says Lamar Outdoor advertising has agreed to yank the ad above Sixth Ave. and Watts St., which features a picture of a young black girl below the message, "The most dangerous place for African Americans is in the womb."
"The billboard was offensive, especially during Black History Month, and I had intended to hold a press conference Friday in front of the billboard to protest the message of racial profiling and against a woman"s right to choose," Sharpton said Thursday.
Life Always, the Texas-based anti-abortion group that sponsored the ad, said it hoped to raise public awarenewss of Planned Parenthood's "targeting of minority neighborhoods."
It was scheduled to remain in SoHo for three weeks.
Representatives for Life Always
Muammar Qadaffi Presents Letterman's Top 10 Ways To Mispronounce "Qaddafi"
How Huckabee might beat Obama in 2012
Huckabee's biggest threat to Obama in the 2012 presidential race could be his claim that the economic recovery requires fixing America's broken family structure. But such views are not fully formed yet, which may be his weakness.
Monitor's Editorial Board
February 24, 2011
The latest Gallup poll indicates that Mike Huckabee is now the most popular of the possible GOP contenders to run against Barack Obama in 2012. And it just so happens that the former Arkansas governor is visiting Iowa this week – to tout his latest book but perhaps also to test the campaign waters.
The former Baptist minister was also quick on Wednesday to criticize President Obama for reversing his support of the Defense of Marriage Act. That 15-year-old law defines marriage as only between a man and a woman and effectively bans federal recognition of gay marriage.
Mr. Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa caucus against John McCain and, while later losing the GOP nomination, he has kept himself in the public eye, maneuvering among potential rivals such as Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney.
Politics aside, Huckabee offers an interesting policy challenge to Obama. He claims government can’t fix the slow economy and high unemployment unless America fixes its social structure. Families are the nation’s most basic form of government, he says, and they are falling apart.
Huckabee says absentee fathers, for example, cost the government some $300 billion a year in aid to single moms – not to mention the lost prosperity if those children are not raised to be ethical and productive citizens as a result of being from a broken family. He says two-thirds of children who live in poverty wouldn’t be in such a plight if their parents were married.
His basic pitch: No government program can do what parents must do in teaching the kind of personal responsibility that is essential to creating a good economy. And the rising costs of government are due in large measure to entitlement programs that pick up the pieces of broken families.
Such talk about “family values” is a far cry from the usual debate about job creation, which is focused on such steps as stimulating the housing market, providing cheap credits to banks, and subsidizing clean energy, fast trains, and Internet expansion.
Yet, as a recent poll for Politico revealed, 62 percent of Americans says “family values” are very important, compared with 23 percent among the Washington elite.
Huckabee is also challenging the tea party, which is focused on economic conservatism and ending big government. Social conservatives and cultural warriors like himself don’t want to become political relics from the Reagan era, when abortion was their prime issue. So they must find some linkage to economic revival.
It’s not a big leap, of course, to see the divorce rate, high levels of teen pregnancy, growing drug use, and other social ills as drags on the economy. But Huckabee falters in not also pointing out that a healthy economy can help reduce those social ills.
And he is not very specific on how big a role he wants for government to address family values. Banning abortion or making it more difficult to divorce is unlikely to happen, for example, while helping families through federal spending or rules on companies aren’t going to fly for now.
Like many conservatives in the debate about entitlement reform, Huckabee won’t say just how much of the government’s social safety net he would reduce even as he would also use government to try to keep families whole.
Yes, charity begins at home, but few people would want to end Social Security.
But then, if unemployment is still above 8 percent during the 2012 presidential race, Huckabee’s views could become more attractive, especially if they are refined and fleshed out. Obama would be vulnerable to Huckabee’s more fundamental view of what ails both society and the economy.
Huckabee hasn’t decided to run yet. But if he does, he may bring a new perspective on the nation’s tired economic debate.
LINK WILL THESE REPUBLICANS RUN IN 2012?
Houston man admits beating mom, taking her dentures
Feb. 24, 2011, 6:12AM
Christopher Harding: Charged with with injury to a disabled person.
A Houston man was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty Wednesday to beating up his disabled mother and taking her dentures. Christopher Harding, 23, was sentenced to deferred adjudication by state District Judge Randy Roll after admitting he grabbed her by the throat, pushed her down and hit her in the face. "The defendant then used his free hand to pull out her upper dentures causing additional pain," court records show.Harding's attorney, Paul D. Valdivieso, said Harding was his disabled mother's caretaker and the two were arguing when the fight broke out on Feb. 10. He said Harding took responsibility after being charged with injury to a disabled person, a state jail felony that carries a maximum of two years behind bars. Valdivieso also said Harding would return the dentures or pay $500 in restitution. Under deferred adjudication, Harding won't have a conviction on his record if he successfully completes probation.
LINK TO VIDEO:
More than 30 Baltimore police officers charged, suspended in towing scheme
Federal authorities say cops allegedly got kickbacks from towing operator
Justin Fenton, Peter Hermann and Julie Scharper
The Baltimore Sun 11:02 p.m. EST
February 23, 2011
LINK TO VIDEO:
Free pancakes at IHOP
When: March 1st : 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
IHOP restaurants will celebrate National Pancake Day by offering a free shortstack of its famous buttermilk pancakes to each guest. In return, diners will be asked to donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation
February 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm EST
House and Senate leaders are more than $60 billion apart on how much to spend or borrow to pay for government after March 4, when the funding for the current fiscal year runs out. If no one blinks, Washington could be headed toward a shutdown – the 16th since Jimmy Carter was president.
Most shutdowns lasted fewer than three days. One of the most famous, the standoff between President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich over balancing the federal budget – lasted 21 days, from Dec. 16, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996. That shutdown furloughed some 800,000 federal workers; delayed processing of visas, passports, and other government applications; suspended cleanup at 600 toxic waste sites; and closed national museums and monuments as well as 368 national park sites – a loss to some 9 million visitors and the airline and tourist industries that service them.
It was, as Republicans had predicted, a “train wreck,” but it hit them hardest. Americans blamed the Republican House more than Mr. Clinton for provoking the shutdown, by a margin greater than 2 to 1.
Here’s what to expect, if Republicans and Democrats don't reconcile their differences on spending for the last half of this fiscal year:
Why must the government shut down? According to the Antideficiency Act of 1870, federal agencies and programs must cease operations if Congress and the president fail to enact funding, except in cases of emergency. The US government shut down six times between fiscal year 1977 and FY 1980, over periods ranging from eight to 17 days, according to the Congressional Research Service. From FY 1981 to FY 1995, there were nine shutdowns of lasting as long as three days. Funding for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 extends only through March 4.
Is government prepared for a shutdown? Since 1980, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has required government agencies to submit plans for an “orderly shutdown.” The plans require agency heads to “limit their operations to minimum essential activities” and to reallocate funds to avoid interruption of services as long as possible. “Those plans are obviously updated accordingly, but they’ve been around for a long time,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney at a briefing on Tuesday.
Are members of Congress exempt from a shutdown? Yes, as is the president. That's because their compensation is financed by a resource other than annual appropriations, in this case, the US Constitution. Other excepted employees are those deemed to perform emergency work involving saving lives or protecting property, including military service, law enforcement, or direct provision of medical care, according to the most recent OMB directives, released in 2010. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D) of California and Robert Casey (D) of Pennsylvania last week proposed legislation to prohibit members of Congress and the president from being paid during a government shutdown, or retroactively. According to current law, furloughed federal workers are paid retroactively. The same protection does not apply to workers under federal contract or those whose jobs are disrupted by the shutdown.
Will I continue to get my Social Security check? The Social Security Administration kept nearly 5,000 employees on the job, about 7 percent of its workforce, during the fiscal year 1996 shutdown, on grounds that its funding is determined by an entitlement formula, not annual appropriations. But SSA later recalled some 50,000 employees to handle new claims and delays.
OMB officials say they are not responding to such hypothetical questions, because they don't expect a shutdown.
“As the part of the executive branch charged with overseeing the management of the federal government, OMB is prepared for any contingency as a matter of course – and so are all the agencies," said Kenneth Baer, OMB communications director, in a statement. "In fact, since 1980, all agencies have had to have a plan in case of a government shutdown, and they routinely update them. All of this is besides the point since, as the congressional leadership has said on a number of occasions and as the President has made clear, no one anticipates or wants a government shutdown."
Staten Island couple arrested for child endangerment for taking daughter, 6, to police to scare herRocco Parascandola AND Rich Schapiro
Wednesday, February 23rd 2011, 1:09 PM
Enayla Santiago's parents took the six-year-old to a police station - and then got taught a lesson of their own.
A Staten Island couple's plan to scare their troublemaking daughter straight by bringing her to a police station backfired when cops arrested them for child endangerment.
The parental misfire occurred Friday when Annette Gerhardt and her fiance, Gerardo Santiago, brought their 6-year-old daughter to the 120th precinct stationhouse.
The couple's daughter, Enayla, was acting out in school, and Gerhardt got the idea to take her to a police station after a friend did the same thing with her problem child.
"They pulled her kid aside and said, 'This is where bad girls and boys go," Gerhardt, 25, told the Daily News Wednesday. "That's what I was looking for."
That's not what happened.
Gerhardt said that after she escorted her daughter inside and asked an officer to "play along" with the gag, the cop turned serious and reprimanded her instead.
"She told me that I was an unfit mother," Gerhardt said. "I sat there with tears in my eyes."
Minutes later, both Gerhardt and Santiago, 27, who was waiting in a car outside, were arrested and charged with misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
They were arraigned on Saturday and released on their own recognizance.
Cops say that Gerhardt was arrested as she walked out of the precinct, leaving her daughter behind, after telling officers, "I can't control her any more. I'm leaving her here. If I can't leave her here, I'll leave her at the firehouse."
But Gerhardt's lawyer claims it was all just a big misunderstanding.
"It's really just a misunderstanding that police blew out of proportion," said Matthew Blum. "She was trying to scare her daughter straight...Her mistake was not contacting police before doing this."
Enayla was in the custody of her grandmother until Tuesday when she was returned to her parents.
Gerhardt and Santiago have been in trouble with the law before.
The young couple was reportedly busted last April on felony drug charges after cops discovered a half-pound of marijuana in their home.
For her part, Gerhardt says she wishes she never stepped foot in the stationhouse with her daughter.
"It was horrible," Gerhardt said. "It's an experience you just wished in that moment that you didn't do it - that you could just take it all back."
LINK TO PHOTO OF PARENTS AND AUDIO:
KRMG Local News
"Burglar Beatdown" Given by Tulsa Homeowner
February 22, 2011 10:48 AM
Tulsa, OK) - Technically he'll go down in the police report as a "victim", but a Tulsa man quickly and vigorously turned the tables on an alleged burglar who police say broke into the man's home in the 200 block of South 69th East Avenue Monday night.
Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham said the victim was making a sandwich in the kitchen of the home when 45-year-old Todd Tracy Hicks (shown) tapped him on the shoulder and told him to get on the ground.
"The suspect entered into the home where a mid-20's individual was making a sandwich, and the suspect implied that he had a weapon," Willingham said.
Instead, the victim started punching Hicks repeatedly in the face and then held him until police arrived.
"He yelled into the other room, and his father brought in a gun and held the suspect at bay at gunpoint until officers arrived."
Hicks was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on two complaints of burglary.
"Obviously this was an unusual set of circumstances where we're certainly happy that nobody was injured in this exchange of events that occurred."
Willingham said Hicks had broken into another nearby residence before making his ill-fated decision to tap on the shoulder of the man making the sandwich.
Willingham said it appeared that Hicks was "quite intoxicated".
He added that while this incident ended in the homeowner's favor, police don't recommend taking the same aggressive approach.
"You know we don't encourage people to normally take action when confronted with a situation like this, but having said that, everything in this particular incident went accordingly, and everyone's going home safe, and that's what's important," he said.
Willingham said Hicks apparently had a knife from the earlier alleged break-in but dropped it before allegedly breaking into the second home.
MUST SEE PHOTO
LINK TO PHOTO AND INTERVIEW WITH POLICE:
Fla. Police: Dispute over Thin Mints gets physical
The Associated Press
NAPLES, Fla. -- Police say a brawl between roommates over Girl Scout cookies led to assault charges against one of them. According to the Naples Daily News, the Collier County Sheriff's Office reports that 31-year-old Hersha Howard woke up her roommate early Sunday and accused her of eating her Thin Mints.
They argued and deputies say that it turned physical with Howard chasing her roommate with scissors and hitting her repeatedly with a board and then a sign.
Police say the roommate's husband tried to separate them. The roommate said she gave the cookies to Howard's children.
Howard is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was released Monday on $10,000 bail.
A telephone listing for Howard could not be immediately found.
AP The fight reportedly involved the popular Thin Mints cookies.
Egyptian Father Names Baby 'Facebook'
The Huffington Post
First Posted: 02/21/11 11:09 AM
Updated: 02/21/11 02:28 PM
Egyptian father Jamal Ibrahim has reportedly named his newborn daughter "Facebook" to honor the social media site's role in Egypt's revolution.
According to TechCrunch, Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper reported the following:
A young man in his twenties wanted to express his gratitude about the victories the youth of 25th of January have achieved and chose to express it in the form of naming his firstborn girl "Facebook" Jamal Ibrahim (his name.) The girl's family, friends, and neighbors in the Ibrahimya region gathered around the new born to express their continuing support for the revolution that started on Facebook. "Facebook" received many gifts from the youth who were overjoyed by her arrival and the new name. A name [Facebook] that shocked the entire world.
Facebook was used to organize the initial January 25 protest in Tahrir Square. Since then, Egyptians taking part in the uprising used Twitter, YouTube and a host of other sites, in addition to Facebook, to communicate and coordinate.
ABDON M. PALLASCH and Fran Spielman
Rahm Emanuel appeared on track to win 55 percent of the vote for mayor Tuesday, scoring a big enough victory to avoid a runoff and establish an indisputable mandate from just about every geographic and ethnic bloc in Chicago.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Emanuel had 55 percent of the vote to 24 percent for Gery Chico, and 9 percent each for Miguel del Valle and Carol Moseley Braun. Both Chico and Braun have conceded victory to Emanuel.
“Two things are surreal: the nature of the victory and how fast it got counted. What is this California? I’ve only been gone two years. What happened?” said campaign strategist David Axelrod, who worked together with Emanuel in President Obama’s White House.
Emanuel appeared to garner more black votes than Braun, and his victory, on top of victories by President Obama and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, offer evidence Chicago voters are looking beyond race to what they see as candidates’ qualifications.
“The most important thing for the city was the multi-racial, multi-ethnic nature of this victory. It was truly a citywide victory. To do that in one round is a remarkable feat,” Axelrod said. “There were people who doubted his strength in the African-American community, but it was real. It is much healthier for the city and it will give him the foundation from which to attack the problems of the city.”
Emanuel had a hard-to-beat resume.
“It’s tough to beat somebody who’s worked for two presidents, had experience in Congress and can actually point to things at the national level that everybody is aware of, said Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), whose North Side ward delivered a 65 percent vote for Emanuel. “He’s also a prodigious fundraiser and a tireless campaigner. That’s a resume and a record that’s hard to match.”
Emanuel rode a $12 million media blitz, a near endorsement from President Obama and the full endorsement of former President Bill Clinton to a one-and-done victory over three major rivals.
“We’ve elected a mayor tonight,” Chico said. He and Emanuel had just spoken on the phone, and Chico offered any help Emanuel would need.
“I want with all of my heart for Rahm Emanuel to be successful as mayor. I again offered my service to him in any capacity he wishes and he couldn’t have been more gracious in the phone call. Our future is very very bright and Rahm will lead us in the right direction. Let’s all work together to get behind the new mayor and make this the best city on the face of the Earth.”
With the election now over, Emanuel can use the millions he has left on the aldermanic runoffs to help shape the new City Council to his liking. If longtime Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th), who supported Chico, does not cut a deal with Emanuel, his days could be numbered.
The sweeping victory left the Emanuel campaign positively giddy.
“The job of mayor is one that people look to for strength, leadership and larger-than-life personalities. Rahm fit the bill. He seems big enough and tough enough and strong enough to lead the city forward,” Axelrod said. “And the effort to throw him off the ballot was incredibly ill-conceived and strengthened him. It was a combination of him running a great campaign and some of the tactics employed against him that propelled his momentum.”
Before the outcome became apparent Emanuel appeared briefly with his wife and kids in a back room at his election headquarters at a near West Side union hall and made only small talk with the media.
“OK, I’ll see you guys at Thanksgiving,” he said smiling, Emanuel, who has the largest campaign war chest in the state, is selling beer, wine, soda and water at his election headquarters at a near West Side union hall. Water is going for $2 a bottle. 312 beer goes for $4 for a draft.
The crowd ramped up as election results are posted on a giant screen in the hall. Cheers erupted at numbers showing Emanuel’s widening lead.
“This is unbelievable,” said Dwight Nash, putting his hands on his head and staring at the numbers that rolled in — early and overwhelmingly in favor of Emanuel.
Nash, a bricklayer, and Patrick Deliberto, an electrician, who both volunteered for the campaign, said they couldn’t believe how quickly the results were coming in for Emanuel.
Daniel Comeaux, an intern with the campaign who helped coordinate some of its phone efforts, said they kicked it into high gear this weekend. Over the past four days, volunteers made 50,000 phone “contacts” with potential voters, he said.
“We were working to get out the vote and apparently it worked,” the University of Chicago student said, motioning back at a giant screen showing Emanuel with 54 percent of the vote with 84 percent of precincts reporting.
Comeaux said volunteers were making calls and knocking on doors until 7 p.m. today.
“I told one woman who was getting her hair done to stop and run out and vote,” he said.
Emanuel himself kept campaigning right up until the last minute, hoping to catch a few voters who still had a chance to hit the polls.
Chico, Moseley Braun and del Valle also were working up until the moment the polls closed.
If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote today, the top two will meet in an April 5 runoff.
A morning snow helped keep voting numbers low in the morning and an expected afternoon surge never happened. So instead of a 50 percent turnout, the low 40s looks more likely.
Who does that help or hurt?
All of the candidates confess they really don’t know but they all are doing their best to find good news in the numbers. Turnout seems higher on the lakefront and Northwest Side and lower in the black wards. That would seem to favor Emanuel, said one Emanuel colleague: “My head tells me he will avoid a runoff. My gut is uncertain. It’s very hard with six candidates to get to 50 percent.”
But with turnout so high on the Southwest and Northwest corners of the city where police and firefighters live, one election official referred to it as “A police and fire election” with turnout as high as 60 percent in the 19th Ward — Beverly — and close to that in the 41st Ward on the Northwest Side.
That would bode well for Chico, who has the strong backing of the police and fire unions, afraid that Emanuel will cut their pensions.
Del Valle hit “L” stop after “L” stop trying to defy the odds up until the very last minute
“The low turnout could work for us or against us, we don’t know, it depends where it is,” del Valle said.
Emanuel, shaking hands with his son, Zach, 13, at the Merchandise Mart, said he couldn’t read the tea leaves either.
“Like you, I’ll be waiting to see. There’s nothing I can do about that,” he said.
Emanuel will be greeting supporters Tuesday night at the Plumbers Hall on the Near West Side. The plumbers were one of the few unions that endorsed Emanuel.
Braun is watching the results at the Parkway Ballroom in Bronzeville.
Chico is downtown at The Westin and del Valle will gather with supporters at the Revolution Brewing Company in Logan Square.
Mayor Daley touched off the political sweepstakes with his stunning, Sept. 7 decision to choose political retirement over a seventh term.
“Simply put, it’s time. Time for me. And time for Chicago to move on…It just feels right,” Daley, 68, said on that fateful day.
“I have always believed that every person — especially public officials — must understand when it is time to move on. For me, that time is now.”
From the moment Daley uttered those words, Emanuel was the frontrunner, a status that was only reinforced after Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart took a pass on the mayor’s race.
Emanuel had gotten a running start nearly five months earlier when he declared his intention to run for mayor of Chicago if Daley didn’t.
The remark was so calculating and out of the blue, some political observers wondered whether Emanuel had gotten a heads-up on the mayor’s decision.
Conspiracy theories were put to rest by a decision that Emanuel made a few days before the mayor announced his retirement. Emanuel had renewed the lease of the tenant who rented Emanuel’s Ravenswood home when the North Side congressman agreed to become President Obama’s chief-of-staff.
That set the stage for a residency challenge that dominated much of the campaign.
The hearings attracted national attention, in part because of the spectacle of having a former White House chief-of-staff who once dictated negotiating terms to Congressional leaders and auto industry executives sitting in the basement of the Cook County administration building answering questions from private citizens for nearly 12 hours.
Emanuel got a four-day scare in late January, when the Illinois Appellate Court temporarily knocked him off the ballot. But by the time the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously reversed that ruling, it was abundantly clear that the entire episode had backfired.
Not only did the residency challenge suck the air out of a debate that should have focused throughout on the serious issues facing Chicago, it turned Emanuel into a sympathetic figure. That’s not easy to do to a politician known for his cut-throat, take-no-prisoners style.
When the residency fight ended, two polls—one by WLS-TV Channel 7, the other by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association—showed Emanuel avoiding a run-off with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
It just might turn out to be what the Emanuel campaign likes to call a “sugar high.”
Black voters who initially sympathized with Emanuel could cast enough of their votes for Braun to keep Emanuel under the magic, 50 percent-plus-one benchmark he needs to avoid a run-off.
The race for second place, if there is one, is likely to go to Gery Chico, the former Daley chief-of-staff and school board president who was outspent by Emanuel by a 3-to-1 margin.
Braun’s inability to light a fire with black voters was the surprise of the campaign.
She had come rolling into the new year as the consensus black candidate for mayor after Congressman Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and State Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) bowed out after talks brokered by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.
Braun had convinced the other two that she and she alone had the backing from black business leaders needed to raise at least $1.5 million and compete with the big boys on TV.
But, a series of missteps prevented Braun from raising more than $500,000. She initially refused to release her federal income tax returns because, “I don’t want to,” only to suffer through a week of embarrassing revelations about her personal and business finances.
Even more damaging was Braun’s surprise attack against nominal rival Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins.
It happened after Watkins dared to say that Braun “hasn’t been around for 20 years” and that Watkins “did not even know the woman lived in the city” because she hadn’t heard Braun’s “voice out there on the street.”
“Patricia, the reason you do not know where I was for the last 20 years is because you were strung out on crack,” Braun said.
Watkins demanded an apology and got it a few days later. Although she has admitted to a drug problem that lasted until she was 21, she insisted she has never seen crack, let alone used it.
Despite the unprecedented fundraising — $12 million for Emanuel and $3.6 million for Chico—the campaign generally avoided the ugly racial and ethnic pitfalls that have characterized past mayoral campaigns.
An exception was when a labor leader backing Chico denounced Emanuel as a “Wall Street Judas” who sold out union jobs for “bags of silver” when he muscled NAFTA through Congress.
Daley denounced the remark by Jim Sweeney, business manager for Operating Engineers Local 150, as an anti-Semitic “disgrace.”
Chico initially defended the remark, then apologized to anyone, including Emanuel, who might have been offended.
Emanuel’s NAFTA history and his threat to reduce the pension benefits of existing city employees have prompted a majority of the city’s unions, including police and fire, to line up behind Chico.
Chico and Emanuel have both offered to at least consider lifting the city’s residency requirement.
At Emanuel’s insistence, debates between the four major candidates were scheduled late in the campaign to minimize their impact.
They turned into “gang up on Rahm” affairs that saw del Valle try and portray Emanuel and Chico as “cut from the same cloth” after using their public positions for personal financial gain.
Arvada Police arrest 11-year-old over 'inappropriate' stick figure drawing
7:50 a.m. MST
February 22, 2011
LINK TO VIDEO:
Wisconsin protests: Do Americans agree with tea party view of unions?
February 19, 2011
The tea party movement casts it as a battle to take state politics back from labor-union bosses and liberal interest groups. Union supporters say Republican lawmakers are putting the basic rights of working class Americans at risk.
Which view do more Americans agree with?
As union contract issues reverberate as state-budget sticking points in Wisconsin and other states, the American public doesn't fall neatly into either camp. The public's view on the subject is evolving, and how it shifts in coming months could help determine the near-term course of state politics and finances.
In one survey taken early this month, the Pew Research Center asked a cross-section of Americans whether their view of labor unions is favorable or unfavorable.
Although the share of respondents taking some form of favorable view (45 percent) was slightly larger than the camp with unfavorable views (42 percent), support for unions has clearly ebbed over the past decade. When Pew asked the same poll question in 1999, the margin was 59 percent "favorable" to 36 percent "unfavorable."
Moreover, deeply held views of unions are more likely to be negative (17 percent say their view is "very unfavorable") than positive (11 percent say "very favorable). The opposite was the case as recently as 2007.
At the same time, the poll underscored views that don't tend toward either extreme.
Asked about "when you hear of a disagreement between state or local governments and unions that represent government workers," more Americans say their first reaction is to side with the union (44 percent) than with state or local governments (38 percent). And substantially more Americans see union contracts as ensuring that workers are "treated fairly" than as giving workers an "unfair advantage."
As to their role in the private sector, the view is also mixed. A majority says unions have a positive impact on work conditions and worker pay, although many Americans worry that unions make it harder for US companies to compete globally.
Not surprisingly, Democrats have a much more favorable view of unions than Republicans. Among those who call themselves political independents, 42 percent voiced a "favorable" of unions view this month, down from 54 percent when Pew asked the question in January 2007.
Against this backdrop, advocates for and against unions are seeking to sway voter opinions in budget-strapped states across the nation.
The latest states to grab the spotlight are Wisconsin and Ohio. In both places, public-employee unions are seeking to counter Republican efforts to strip or reduce collective-bargaining rights.
Wisconsin's capital city, Madison, became the venue for dueling rallies Saturday. Buses brought in tea party adherents to express support for proposed union pay cuts. Meanwhile the ranks of union supporters swelled in their own rally nearby.
It comes after days during which many Wisconsin schools closed because teachers went to join protests at the capitol building. On Saturday, according to Associated Press reports, supporters of Gov. Scott Walker (R) sported signs reading, "I was at work yesterday. Where were you?" and "Sorry, we're late Scott. We work for a living."
Midwestern states aren't the only ones facing difficult budget choices, involving everything from union compensation to education and other services.
As Wisconsin has become a prominent national news story this week, politicians on the national stage have also weighed in with their own efforts to sway public opinion.
"Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions," President Obama said. He said public employees like teachers and social workers shouldn't be blamed for budget problems.
House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio said Obama was "colluding with special-interest allies across the country to demagogue reform-minded governors who are making the tough choices that the President is avoiding."
In recent years, public support for labor unions has begun to wane. Will this trend continue as state and local governments face budget challenges? Protests in Wisconsin may be an indicator.
Radio station's 'Win a Wife' contest draws international outrage; Winner gets money, Ukrainian brideLindsay Goldwert
Tuesday, February 22nd 2011, 4:00 AM
FMA radio station contest where the winner get a Ukrainian wife is drawing outrage.
Auckland might earn the name ICKland thanks to an outrageous stunt by a local radio station.
The New Zealand station The Rock FM has sparked international ire for its "Win a Wife" contest, reports MsMagazine.
The contest winner would be able to choose a Ukrainian bride from an agency that matches women with Kiwis and then receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Ukraine.
But that's not all: the winner also scores $2,000 to spend on his first meeting with his catalogue bride.
The radio station, whose tagline is "Bands, Babes, Balls n' Bull," told listeners to send a contest application, "If you're interested in holy matrimony with a potentially hot foreign chick."
"Some people think it's a little stupid, others see it as what it is, a tongue-in-cheek idea that gives someone the opportunity of a lifetime to travel on an all expenses paid trip to the Ukraine," The Rock program director Brad King told NZ Herald News.
A Facebook protest called "Stop the Rock's 'Win a Wife' campaign'" was soon posted and attracted over 1,300 followers. Government officials from both New Zealand and the Ukraine blasted the radio station for its offensive contest and demanded the plug be pulled.
Bowing to legal and government pressure, the radio station made a quick edit.
They changed the name of the contest from "Win a Wife" to "Win A Trip To Beautiful Ukraine For 12 Nights And Meet Eastern European Hot Lady Who Maybe One Day You Marry."
Critics are crying foul at the mocking tone that radio station has taken toward its critics.
"The Embassy of Ukraine, the existing Ukrainian New Zealand community and general public opinion in your country… take it as the indecent demonstration of low taste and cultural standards as well as utter disrespect and violation of human dignity directed not only at Ukrainian women but at the entire better part of the humankind," the Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia Valentyn Adomaytis wrote to the NZ Broadcasting Standards Authority.
In the meantime, the contest goes on and the winner will be selected on Feb. 28.
Knicks swing trade Carmelo
Last Updated: 5:19 AM, February 22, 2011
Posted: 2:25 AM, February 22, 2011
The Knicks finally got their man, giving them two superstars -- with a strong chance of adding a third in 2012.
Carmelo Anthony is finally a Knick, not a Net.
"It's a done deal," a league source said.
The deal was agreed upon last night when Knicks owner James Dolan caved in and added Russian center Timofey Mozgov to the deal after the Nuggets threatened to trade him to the Nets if they did not.
A source said Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was contemplating doing a deal without an extension in place for Anthony -- confident he would not turn down $65 million with labor strife possibly coming this summer.
PRIZE GUY: Carmelo Anthony has something to smile about -- he is set to join the Knicks, his preferred destination, after they swung a mega-deal with the Nuggets for the superstar forward.
N.Y. Post: The long-talked-about trade -- a three-team blockbuster that includes the Knicks, Nuggets and Timberwolves -- is expected to be announced today, and Anthony looks to make his Knicks debut tomorrow night at the Garden against the Bucks.
The Knicks traded Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Mozgov, Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry's contract, a 2014 first-round pick and two second-round picks, and $3 million in the three-team deal.
They get back Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman (a former first-round pick drafted by Isiah Thomas), Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter from Denver, plus Corey Brewer from Minnesota. The Timberwolves take on Curry and Randolph. The Denver Post first reported the deal on its website.
Anthony will play alongside Amar'e Stoudemire, giving the Knicks a potentially powerful 1-2 punch.
A person familiar with the Knicks' strategy said, "It sets them up for the future. You have two huge pieces, everything else works itself out."
The Knicks are giving up a king's ransom -- three starters and their sixth man -- but it will be all worth it if they land star point guard Chris Paul as a 2012 free agent, which was part of the thinking.
The deal will have negative connotations only because of the perception that Thomas, Dolan's loyal friend, was a major advocate of the deal.
League sources said Knicks president Donnie Walsh would not have given up as many pieces -- or at least called Denver's bluff of trading him to the Nets -- had he been completely calling the shots. Walsh often said he did not want to break up the team for Anthony, an All-Star whose teams have never gone further than the conference finals and who some league scouts believe will not fit well into coach Mike D'Antoni's system because he doesn't pass the ball enough.
But the Knicks feel relieved they did not have to give up starting rookie shooting guard Landry Fields, who they felt was a more crucial piece than Gallinari, a small forward like Anthony.
Anthony stayed in Hollywood yesterday following Sunday's All-Star Game to do the Conan O'Brien show, which was taped before the deal was completed.
"I wish it would just come to an end," Anthony said. "It's all fun and games. It's exciting to know so many people want me to come and represent their city or their organization. But at this point, it's just, enough is enough already. Let's get something done and make something happen."
And so it did. The scenario of teaming Stoudemire, Anthony and Paul began at Anthony's wedding this past summer with the point guard's infamous Champagne toast.
Billups will replace Felton at point guard, and the club does not look at the swap as a downgrade for the short term.
The Knicks still need to add a center to offset the loss of Mozgov. They hope to pursue Jared Jeffries if he gets bought out, ex-Knick Earl Barron or a D-League player.
The bigger picture to the trade is having a shot to add a third superstar in Paul or Deron Williams in 2012 to compete against Miami.
A league source said Dolan has been hell-bent on getting Anthony to keep him from the Nets' Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who has become a rival. Denver preferred the Nets' draft-pick-laden trade offer until Mozgov was added.
Rush Limbaugh calls Michelle Obama a hypocrite after First Lady reportedly eats ribs on ski vacationNina Mandell
Monday, February 21st 2011, 4:25 PM
First lady Michelle Obama, seen here at a "Let's Move" event, angered Rush Limbaugh with her dietary choices last weekend.
Rush Limbaugh disapproved of her choice of ribs.
He may be no model of fitness himself, but Rush Limbaugh thinks Michelle Obama could stand to shed a few pounds.
Especially before telling other people what to eat.
The conservative talk show host slammed the First Lady in his radio show Monday after she was spotted in Colorado snacking on some short ribs. The vacation dinner, Limbaugh charged, went against the First Lady's emphasis on promoting nutrition and exercise.
And he didn't exactly mince words.
"The problem is, and dare I say this, it doesn't look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice," he said. "And then we hear that she's out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving ... I'm trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you."
The First Lady's health initiatives encourage people to make better choices about what foods they eat, and emphasizes getting enough fruits and vegetables daily. She also encourages everyone, especially children, to get outside and exercise in her "Let's Move" campaign.
"We want to make sure that people understand this is about overall health and physical fitness is ... something that I stress in my household. It is a part of that. It's a natural part of your life," she said on Good Morning America earlier this month. "My kids have to get up and move. They can't sit in front of the TV. I have my girls involved in sports because I want them, as young women, to understand what it feels like to compete and to win and to run and to sweat. ... This is about all of that, as well."
When the diet report was published by a Colorado newspaper, she was at a Vail resort skiing with daughters Sasha and Malia. She took them to Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail Village on Saturday night, according to Vail Daily, where she ate a braised ancho-chile short rib with hominy wild mushrooms and sautéed kale. She also began the meal with a pickled pumpkin salad with arugala.
"Yes, it's true, the first lady dined at our restaurant tonight and seemed to really enjoy it," restaurant chef and owner Kelly Liken told the newspaper.
Limbaugh's not the first conservative to slam her nutrition choices. Fellow conservative darling Sarah Palin often ridicules the First Lady's efforts, arguing it's not up to the Obamas or the government to tell Americans what to eat.
"What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat," the ex-Alaska governor told radio host Laura Ingraham in November. "Instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician's or politician's wife's priorities, just leave us alone . . . "
Limbaugh suggested he just didn't think the Obamas were following their own advice.
"She's a hypocrite. Leaders are supposed to be leaders. If we're supposed to go out and eat nothing, if we're supposed to eat roots and berries and tree bark, show us how," he ranted.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Texas poised to pass bill allowing guns on campus
20 February 2011 10:53 PM
AUSTIN — Texas may be preparing to give college students and professors the right to carry guns on campus, adding momentum to a national campaign to open this part of society to firearms.
More than half the members of the Texas House have signed on as co-authors of a measure directing universities to allow concealed handguns. The Senate passed a similar bill in 2009 and is expected to do so again. Republican Gov. Rick Perry , who sometimes packs a pistol when he jogs, has said he’s in favor of the idea.
Bills are still in committee so nothing has come up for a House or Senate vote yet.
Texas has become a prime battleground for the issue because of its gun culture and its size, with 38 public universities and more than 500,000 students. It would become the second state, following Utah , to pass such a broad-based law. Colorado gives colleges the option and several have allowed handguns.
Supporters of the legislation argue that gun violence on campuses, such as the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Northern Illinois in 2008, show that the best defense against a gunman is students who can shoot back.
“It’s strictly a matter of self-defense,” said state Sen. Jeff Wentworth , R-San Antonio . “I don’t ever want to see repeated on a Texas college campus what happened at Virginia Tech, where some deranged, suicidal madman goes into a building and is able to pick off totally defenseless kids like sitting ducks.”
Until the Virginia Tech incident, the worst college shooting in U.S. history occurred at the University of Texas, when sniper Charles Whitman went to the top of the administration tower in 1966 and killed 16 people and wounded dozens. Last September, a University of Texas student fired several shots from an assault rifle before killing himself.
Similar firearms measures have been proposed in about a dozen other states, but all face strong opposition, especially from college leaders. In Oklahoma, all 25 public college and university presidents declared their opposition to a concealed carry proposal.
“There is no scenario where allowing concealed weapons on college campuses will do anything other than create a more dangerous environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Oklahoma Chancellor of Higher Education Glen Johnson said in January.
University of Texas President William Powers has opposed concealed handguns on campus, saying the mix of students, guns and campus parties is too volatile.
The majority of adult Texans, 70 percent, surveyed in a poll in December and January opposed allowing guns on campus. The poll for The Dallas Morning News and other large newspapers in the state had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Guns on campus bills have been rejected in 23 states since 2007, but gun control activists acknowledge it will be difficult to stop the Texas bill from passing this year.
“Things do look bleak,” said Colin Goddard, assistant director of federal legislation for the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, who was in Austin recently to lobby against the Texas bills.
Goddard was a student at Virginia Tech when he was shot four times in his French class. Student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people, including 10 in Goddard’s classroom, before shooting himself. Goddard dismisses the idea that another student with a gun could have stopped the killer.
“People tell me that if they would have been there, they would have shot that guy. That offends me,” Goddard said. “People want to be the hero, I understand that. They play video games and they think they understand the reality. It’s nothing like that.”
Texas enacted its concealed handgun law in 1995, allowing people 21 or older to carry weapons if they pass a training course and a background check. The state had 461,724 license holders as of Dec. 31, according to the state Department of Public Safety .
Businesses, schools and churches can set rules banning guns on their premises. On college campuses, guns are prohibited in buildings, dorms and certain grounds around them.
Opponents of campus gun rights say students and faculty would live in fear of their classmates and colleagues, not knowing who might pull a gun over a poor grade, a broken romance or a drunken fraternity argument.
Frankie Shulkin, a first-year law student at the University of Texas, said he doesn’t think he’d feel safer if other students in his classes had guns.
“If I was taking an exam and knew the person next to me had one, I don’t know how comfortable I would feel,” Shulkin said. “I am in favor of guns rights and your typical conservative guy, but the classroom thing bugs me.”
Wentworth said he heard the “blood on the streets” warnings when Texas first passed the concealed handgun law. “They said we’d have shootouts at every intersection,” he said. “None of that has happened.”
Facebook remark wasn’t racist, Hagan says
Published: Sun, February 20, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.
In this undated photo released by Ohio House of Representatives, Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-Youngstown, is shown.
(AP Photo/Larry Phillips Photography Inc. via Ohio House of Representatives)
A Broadview Heights woman is accusing state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of using a term that some believe has a racist connotation on a social networking site.
Hagan, D-60th, of Youngstown, used the term “buckwheat” in a Facebook posting Saturday.
He said the posting wasn’t racist, and the attack on him is the tea party’s attempt to make him look bad.
“I have a history of supporting equal rights and civil rights,” Hagan said.
The Facebook discussion started between Hagan and Maggi Cook, of Southwest Ohio, regarding Wisconsin Senate Democrats not showing up at their Statehouse because of their governor’s attempts to remove collective bargaining rights and cut benefits for public workers.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed similar cuts.
Hagan opposes the cuts.
Rachel Mullen Manias, a GOP activist from Broadview Heights, outside Cleveland; a man named Kevin Crowther and others joined the discussion.
The discussion continues, with Manias, Cook and Crowther, who is black, arguing for the need for cuts and Hagan against what’s bee n proposed.
Manias then wrote, “I’m guessing your (sic) from an entrenched area ripe with corruption. I don’t recognize your name as a Cuyahoga County resident, but I’m guessing you’re from the land of Traficant...”
Hagan responds that she’s not making sense. Two others comment and then Crowther returns to the discussion of public unions.
Then Hagan writes, “I ran against Traficant buckwheat ... so take your personal shots, and shove them where the sun don’t shine.”
Hagan said “buckwheat” is a term he’s been using since he was a kid and that it carries no racial connotation for him.
He said he wasn’t aware of the race of any of the people involved in the discussion and that his comment was directed at Manias, not Crowther.
Manias, who e-mailed the discussion to The Vindicator, believes the word is inappropriate in any case.
“I find it completely unacceptable that a career politician finds the word ‘Buckwheat’ to be socially acceptable and appropriate in any situation,” Manias said in an e-mail. “If my children used that racially offensive term towards anyone, I’d wash their mouths out with soap.”
She said her Facebook profile picture is of the Hello Kitty cartoon character.
“If he was directing it to me, how did he know what race I am?” she said in the e-mail. “Also there were African-Americans reading and commenting. How are they to feel? Since Al Sharpton is coming to Akron, maybe he should swing by Youngstown and ask Bob about the appropriateness of the term ‘Buckwheat.’”
Crowther of Liberty Township in Southwest Ohio, believes the term was directed at him.
“I was offended by that,” Crowther said.
He called it an odd and inappropriate thing for Hagan to say.
“I felt it was beneath somebody that we’d elect” to say it, Crowther said.
Hagan said it’s an attempt to make him look bad.
“They are so full of ----,” he said. “They’re so negative, these teabaggers.”
He said that Republicans, as the ones who are cutting programs for the poor and rights for public employees, should be the ones defending themselves.
“I have no apologies for telling her to shove it where the sun don’t shine,” Hagan said. “I’m a liberal. I’m happy to be a liberal. I’m a progressive liberal and I have a record of fighting for equal rights, for civil rights, for women’s rights. The only thing I regret is responding to them at all.”
LINK TO GALLERY OF FACEBOOK COMMENTS:
February 21, 2011
Michelle Obama's big 'sacrifices' on her Vail vacation
It has been almost a month and a half since the Obama family returned from 10 days in Oahu. With all the breastfeeding advice she's been giving out lately, an exhausted First Lady is long overdue for some R & R.
Relinquishing her role as tireless workaholic, Michelle decided to revisit last year's mother/daughter ski trip to the Ski Liberty Resort in Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania. Only this year, the Obama women have taken to the slopes in Vail, Colorado on a "private family trip" accompanied by "several close friends."
When unveiling his budget, Michelle's husband reminded Americans, "Everybody's going to have to give a little bit." The President even suggested: "If you're a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, you might put off a vacation."
According to Obama, "Just like every family in America, the federal government has to ... live within its means." Which is exactly what Mrs. Obama is doing, spending time with her daughters at a resort that is much more modest than she's used to.
Actually, the whole excursion to Vail Mountain is one of self-sacrifice. According to administration officials, the First Lady and friends are merely "chaperoning...children on a ski trip," otherwise Michelle would likely be home hunkered down, tirelessly working in the "Let's Move" office of the White House.
On a tight budget, the ski trip is but a few steps above a school-sponsored field trip. The chaperones are staying at the Sebastian Hotel, where lodging starts at "$605 per night ... and head north of $2,000 for multi-bedroom suites." Those rates are certainly more modest than the $6,600 a night Mrs. Obama was rumored to have spent at the Hotel Villa Padierna in Costa del Sol.
The Sebastian touts "spas, a Frost Bar, a Market for nibbles, a mountain-view pool, hot tubs and a fire pit." A bevy of ski valets assist patrons "into warm boots and out onto the mountain," which is just the kind of pared-down amenity that penny-pinchers across America can easily relate to.
Michelle arrived with "A motorcade of about a dozen vehicles, including 15 state and local law enforcement officers, traveled from the Eagle County Regional Airport to Vail...Roads were temporarily blocked to make way for the motorcade."
Despite the extravagant entourage, when it comes to frugality Mrs. Obama is a pro. A flight from DC to Colorado is 1,700 miles and takes approximately 3 hours. Although the First Lady usually employs a large Air Force jet to ferry her from vacation spot to vacation spot, this time she answered the call to live within the Obama family means in the following way: To save money, instead of Air Force One, which costs about $100,000 per hour to fly, Michelle chose a less expensive jet.
Not including the weight of ski equipment, a fair guesstimation would be that the Michelle Vail Vacation one-way flight cost much less than what would otherwise have set the American taxpayer back $300,000.
Moreover, Michelle's savvy decision to travel as often as possible without Barack also eliminates about 180 pounds of excess baggage weight, and in the long run helps in tamping down overall costs.
As an added budgetary bonus, the President joined Michelle in setting an example of prudence. Barry saved coaching fees for Sasha's basketball team when another coach failed to show up. Although Sasha was on the bunny slope with Mom in Vail, our thrifty President paused stirring up union trouble in Wisconsin long enough to serve America as a "parent coach" for a team of nine year-old girls, and selflessly did it for free.
The Obamas Continue With Non-stop Partying and Vacations
Why America's teachers are enraged
Special to CNN
February 21, 2011 5:56 a.m. EST
Teacher Terry Grogan of Milwaukee takes part in protest at Wisconsin State Capitol on February 16.
Editor's note: Diane Ravitch is a historian of education and the author of the best seller "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education."
(CNN) -- Thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public sector workers have camped out at the Wisconsin Capitol, protesting Republican Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to reduce their take-home pay -- by increasing their contribution to their pension plans and health care benefits -- and restrict their collective bargaining rights.
Republicans control the state Legislature, and initially it seemed certain that Walker's proposal would pass easily. But then the Democrats in the Legislature went into hiding, leaving that body one vote shy of a quorum. As of this writing, the Legislature was at a standstill as state police searched high and low for the missing lawmakers.
Like other conservative Republican governors, including Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio, Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Rick Scott of Florida, the Wisconsin governor wants to sap the power of public employee unions, especially the teachers' union, since public education is the single biggest expenditure for every state.
Public schools in Madison and a dozen other districts in Wisconsin closed as teachers joined the protest. Although Walker claims he was forced to impose cutbacks because the state is broke, teachers noticed that he offered generous tax breaks to businesses that were equivalent to the value of their givebacks.
Thousands protest Wisconsin budget cuts
Fifth day of Wisconsin protests
Wisconsin businessman avoids chaos
The uprising in Madison is symptomatic of a simmering rage among the nation's teachers. They have grown angry and demoralized over the past two years as attacks on their profession escalated.
The much-publicized film "Waiting for 'Superman'" made the specious claim that "bad teachers" caused low student test scores. A Newsweek cover last year proposed that the key to saving American education was firing bad teachers.
Teachers across the nation reacted with alarm when the leaders of the Central Falls district in Rhode Island threatened to fire the entire staff of the small town's only high school. What got their attention was that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama thought this was a fine idea, even though no one at the high school had been evaluated.
The Obama administration's Race to the Top program intensified the demonizing of teachers, because it encouraged states to evaluate teachers in relation to student scores. There are many reasons why students do well or poorly on tests, and teachers felt they were being unfairly blamed when students got low scores, while the crucial role of families and the students themselves was overlooked.
Teachers' despair deepened last August when The Los Angeles Times rated 6,000 teachers in Los Angeles as effective or ineffective, based on their students' test scores, and posted these ratings online. Testing experts warn that such ratings are likely to be both inaccurate and unstable, but the Times stood by its analysis.
Now conservative governors and mayors want to abolish teachers' right to due process, their seniority, and -- in some states -- their collective bargaining rights. Right-to-work states do not have higher scores than states with strong unions. Actually, the states with the highest performance on national tests are Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont, and New Hampshire, where teachers belong to unions that bargain collectively for their members.
Unions actively lobby to increase education funding and reduce class size, so conservative governors who want to slash education spending feel the need to reduce their clout. This silences the best organized opposition to education cuts.
There has recently been a national furor about school reform. One must wonder how it is possible to talk of improving schools while cutting funding, demoralizing teachers, cutting scholarships to college, and increasing class sizes.
The real story in Madison is not just about unions trying to protect their members' hard-won rights. It is about teachers who are fed up with attacks on their profession. A large group of National Board Certified teachers -- teachers from many states who have passed rigorous examinations by an independent national board -- is organizing a march on Washington in July. The events in Madison are sure to multiply their numbers.
As the attacks on teachers increase and as layoffs grow, there are likely to be more protests like the one that has mobilized teachers and their allies and immobilized the Wisconsin Legislature.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Diane Ravitch.
Huckabee throws a Mitt fit
2/21/11 12:47 AM EST
Updated: 2/21/11 1:07 AM EST
Disdain for Romney could make Mike run. | AP
Mike Huckabee may be especially tempted to run in 2012 by a lingering feud between him and Mitt Romney, a severe hangover from the 2008 campaign that has created a lasting and bitter rift between the two, Republicans who know both men say.
“[Huckabee] hates Mitt, and his goal in Iowa last time was to stop him,” said one prominent Republican, who’s known both men for years. “If he sees an opportunity to cut Mitt off [during the nominating process], he will take it.”
Huckabee and Romney were never exactly pals before the Iowa caucuses two years ago — and none of the other contenders had much affection for Romney either — but the battle for the Hawkeye State permanently turned the former Massachusetts governor and Huckabee into lasting enemies, sources say.
As Huckabee weighs whether to run again, several Republicans with ties to Huckabee say his disdain for Romney is a real factor in his decision-making about whether to mount a second campaign for the White House.
Ed Rollins, a national GOP strategist who ran Huckabee’s 2008 effort, recalled the “personal animosity” that the former Arkansas governor felt for Romney, citing the rawness over the negative campaign Romney ran as Huckabee started surging as the dark horse with no money or national establishment support in Iowa in January 2008.
“I don't think he particularly likes Romney,” Rollins said, although the strategist insisted Huckabee “doesn’t’ think much about Romney or Palin” and would only run if he believes the time is right. “I don't think he felt that Romney had a real core of convictions.”
Hogan Gidley, the executive director of HuckPAC, strongly denied that that Huckabee is driven by any score-settling with Romney.
"Only someone who knows precious little about running for president would put forth the ludicrous notion that a person would go through the rigors of running for president due to some personal grudge,” he said. ”That's beyond absurd — it's idiotic."
Former Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen, now the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, traces the ongoing dislike in part to socio-economic differences between the two.
“This is a little bit about class differences,” Yepsen said. “It was the populist versus the country club. Huckabee did come up the hard way, and like a lot of politicians, and lot of people who do, they have a bit of a chip on their shoulder for people who have a dime more than they do.”
Even if he decides not to run, Huckabee is in a prime position to be influential in a GOP primary contest where Romney is the nominal frontrunner — and one who’s seen as beatable, Yepsen and others say.
“If he's not a candidate, he's arguably more of a threat to Romney sitting on the [sidelines],” Yepsen said. “I think he could really be needling Romney a lot and hurting Romney with a lot of [social conservatives and religious voters] he needs to attract.
“Mike Huckabee is quick on his feet and he is glib and he can be genuinely funny," Yespen added. "I can see him making some glib [comment about] Romney that will wind up being the story of the day on the campaign trail. That is a narrative that Romney's just got to hate and I'm not sure that Huckabee's got it out of his craw yet.”
Huckabee certainly wasn’t alone in disliking Romney in 2008. A memorable anecdote in the book “Game Change” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann featured Huckabee, Giuliani and McCain standing on a pre-debate urinal line, mocking the well-coifed Romney.
University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said, "I can't see Huckabee offering Romney a cabinet post."
Yepsen said part of the dynamic between the two men was questions about "Romney's authenticity," and people's' ability to relate to Huckabee, a former pastor whose good-guy persona resonated with caucus-goers. That issue is definitely going to come back for Romney, Yepsen argued, and Huckabee could end up being the person who nails it.
Yepsen also recalled a subplot involving Romney's faith.
“It was a story that all of us were looking for and it was hard to find because people don't talk openly about it,” Yepsen said, referring to Romney’s Mormonism and Huckabee’s strong appeal with evangelical Christians.
It did come up, from Huckabee himself, at one point in December 2007, when the candidate, in a New York Times story, was quoted saying, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
Asked to comment for this article, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said in an e-mail that “Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee ran a competitive race against each other and had their differences, but Mitt has always had high regard for Mike Huckabee as a person and as a governor.”
Huckabee is on tour promoting his new book, “A Simple Government,” which hits stands on Tuesday. Currently the star of his eponymous Fox News show and the host of a radio show, he has spoken little about Romney publicly in recent months.
But he laid out his grievances with Romney in his post 2008 campaign retrospective, “Do the Right Thing,” which made major headlines for its candid portrayal of the political scion and wealthy former businessman as a phony, an elitist, one who flipped positions and who snubbed his rivals unnecessarily throughout the campaign.
"He spent more time on the road to Damascus than a Syrian camel driver. And we thought nobody could fill John Kerry's flip-flops!" Huckabee wrote in the tome, adding at another point that the Massachusetts pol "was anything but conservative until he changed all the lightbulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president.”
During an interview on Fox News the day before that book came out, Huckabee explained: “What I pointed out was that on every major position, whether it was the sanctity of life or the Second Amendment, or whether it was taxes, whether it's the Bush tax cuts... same-sex marriage, he had had a dramatic conversion to every one of those issues.”
February 20th, 201102:04 PM ET
Yes, oral sex is sex, and it can boost cancer risk
Here's a crucial message for teens: Oral sex carries many of the same risks as vaginal sex, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of oral cancers in America in people under age 50.
"Adolescents don’t think oral sex is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 'sex.'"
Halpern-Felsher and other researchers presented the latest information about the risks of contracting an HPV infection Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.
The latest data suggest that 64% of oropharynx cancers - growing in the middle part of the throat - in the United States are caused by HPV, which is more than tobacco causes, said Maura Gillison of Ohio State University. And as the number of partners on whom you have performed oral sex goes up, the risk of oropharnyx cancer goes up.
About 37,000 people per year receive a diagnosis of oral cancer, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
Just about everyone has had at least one of the 130 strains of HPV; not all of them are cancer-causing. Certain types cause warts on the hands and feet that are benign.
About 5 percent of cancers worldwide are caused by HPV, and some turn up in some surprising places. A University of Washington study found that some men carry HPV 26 under their fingernails, which can lead to a form of cancer called digital squamous cell carcinoma. Proper hand-washing can help prevent this from happening, said Dr. Diane Harper, leading HPV researcher at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.
But this isn't nearly as common as HPV causing cancer in other areas of the body, such as the oral cavity and the cervix.
In the countries that have cervical cancer screening, the prevalence of cervical cancer is five times lower than in other countries, indicating that the testing is effective, Harper said.
Why HPV causes cancer in some people and not others is still mysterious. Studies of the cervix have found that 70% of infections resolve by themselves within one year, and 90% within two years. It's that remaining 10% that actually turn into more serious infections, and 5% lead to treatable precancerous lesions, Harper said.
Two well-established mechanisms of prevention in terms of sexually transmitted HPV are condom usage and circumcision, although neither completely eliminates the risk, Harper said.
A large ongoing study called HITCH is examining questions of HPV transmission and infection in greater detail. So far, it's found that couples can "ping-pong" HPV back and forth to each other, which is one reason that the virus may take so long to clear naturally.
As for getting HPV from kissing, that's not clear, and there isn't enough data to say anything about it yet, Harper said.
It's very hard to get teens to listen to abstinence messages about oral sex, or to get them to use any kind of barrier method for these behaviors, Halpern-Felsher said. And since any risk factor under 50% sounds low to a very young person, throwing these precise statistics at them most likely won't make a difference.
But parents should have honest conversations with their teenagers about oral sex, Halpern-Felsher said. Tell them that the consequences of HPV may not happen right away, and while the risks may not be huge, they are significant. Potential long-term outcomes of cancer are quite concerning.
House votes to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) offers an amendment to a massive spending bill that is approved, 240-185, by the Republican-led House and would prohibit federal funding for the nation's largest provider of abortions.
The Republican-led House on Friday approved an amendment to a massive spending bill that would prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The measure offered by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was approved 240-185, with several Democrats joining Republicans in support. The organization would be prohibited from receiving federal funds for any of its activities. It is already banned from using federal funds to perform most abortions.
The House continues making its way through hundreds of amendments to a spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 30. The bill makes more than $60 billion in cuts for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year, but is unlikely to be supported by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Failure to pass a bill when the current spending plan expires on March 4 could lead to a federal government shutdown.
Pence has made himself the leader of a coordinated effort to defund Planned Parenthood, which is the nation's largest provider of abortions and a longtime target of abortion foes.
The congressman has introduced legislation that would deprive the organization of funding used for contraception, cancer screenings and health services for low income patients. His amendment went a step further by depriving the organization -- and each of its local affiliates -- of all federal funds. Planned Parenthood receives funding from federal, state and local government grants.
President Donald Trump? Conservatives are backing the comb-over candidate for 2012Larry Mcshane
Sunday, February 20th 2011, 4:00 AM
Brandon/APDonald Trump waves after addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington this past Thursday.
Donal Trump's name is splashed across casinos, condos and skyscrapers - yet despite years of speculation, it's never appeared on a ballot.
The latest buzz about candidate Trump comes courtesy of the Draft Trump 2012 Committee, which hopes to get The Donald into the race for The White House.
The group - neither funded by nor connected to Trump - is angling to put the billionaire developer's name on the ballot in four early battleground states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
The driving force behind the campaign is Missourian Nick McLaughlin, a Marine and Iraq war veteran.
"I have never met Mr. Trump," McLaughlin said. "But I am certain he is the man America needs."
New York political veteran Lynn Krogh, one-time deputy press secretary for Gov. George Pataki, is working as the group's national political director.
Trump's "straightforward, no-nonsense response to the problems facing all Americans is a breath of fresh air," she said.
And legendary GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone has been fanning the flames for a Trump bid.
"No one understands the power of television like Trump," Stone crowed on his website. "Trump could dominate 2011 debates and emerge as a real candidate."
Trump has indicated he's thinking about a 2012 run, with a decision to come in the future.
He stole the show with an impromptu speech at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, telling the audience he's "pro-life" and against gun control, higher taxes and President Obama's health-care law.
Continuing his theme that "the United States has become a whipping post for the rest of the world," he told MSNBC last week: "What I would be doing is, I'd be taking in hundreds of billions of dollars from other countries.
"As an example, we protect South Korea. Why aren't they paying us? We have thousands of troops in European countries. ... If we're protecting countries, why aren't they paying for it?
"I would tax China because they are manipulating the currency. They are taking all of our jobs. China is an absolute abuser of the United States. They have no respect for our leadership. ... We would take in hundreds of billions of dollars."
It's hardly the first time Trump's name - and hyperbole - has been linked to a presidential race. He first broached the subject in a 1988 interview, admitting the idea had crossed his mind. In 1999, Trump considered plunging into the race as a Reform Party candidate.
He eventually decided the public scrutiny, the financial disclosure forms and the weekends in Nashua, N.H., weren't worth it.
Despite his lack of campaign experience, the 64-year-old Trump has never lacked confidence in his ability to run the country as easily as he runs a boardroom on "The Apprentice."
"My record has been that of a winner," he told the Boston Globe back in 1988. "If I run, I'd win."
When Trump toyed with the idea of an earlier national run, longtime critic Ed Koch suggested his campaign was merely an effort "to sell condos."
Trump already is sparring with presidential hopeful Ron Paul, telling CPAC the 11-term congressman had zero chance of winning.
The Texas Republican fired back quickly: "How many times has Donald Trump been elected?"
The answer, of course: zero.
The Real Losers In A Government Shutdown
First Posted: 02/18/11 04:44 PM
Updated: 02/20/11 02:54 AM
WASHINGTON -- The plane hasn't taken off, let alone crashed, but the pilot and co-pilot are already on the intercom blaming each other for catastrophe.
That's what's going on as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner maneuver toward a March 4 deadline for extending or changing this year's federal budget. They are issuing preemptive "I told you so"s, hoping to insulate themselves from blame if no deal is reached and the government shuts down.
The president moved first. He rarely issues veto threats, never mind carrying them out. But he ordered his Office of Management and Budget to issue one on his behalf last Tuesday. In essence, he said that if Congress sent him a deep-cut bill like the one House Republicans are gleefully crafting, he'd veto it. Having warned them in advance, he was saying, he couldn't be blamed if the GOP went ahead.
On Tuesday, Boehner -- eager to stay ahead of his Tea Party Republican Guard -- answered back. For his part, he said, he would refuse to consider a plain bill to temporarily extend the existing budget in its current form past March 4. Having warned the president in advance, he was saying, he couldn't be blamed for the shutdown.
So, if there is one on March 4 -- and we seem headed almost inexorably in that direction -- who will suffer the most politically?
History is not really a guide. The last big shutdown, in 1995, ended up being a clear winner for then-President Bill Clinton, but primarily because of the hubris and overreach of the then-Republican Speaker (and potential 2012 presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich managed to make the whole drama look like a matter of personal pique. Go back and look at the famous -- and, for Gingrich, devastating -- front page of the New York Daily News. It showed Newt as a baby with a bottle; politics is a game of comparison, and he made Bill Clinton look mature.
Boehner is no Gingrich, which is a good thing for Republicans. Obama, for that matter, is no Clinton, which may also be a good thing for Republicans. The current president, for all his earnestness, doesn't have Bubba's desperate, savvy sense of quick public maneuver. The president is not as good at spur-of-the-moment survivalist spin.
(If you want to see Clinton's shrewd skills in action, check out my MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews' hour-long documentary Monday night at 10 pm. It's about Clinton's successful effort to become a "global" leader in his post-presidency.)
Still, the likelihood is that the Republicans will lose politically if there is a shutdown. First, it's clear that many of them want one, whatever their leaders say. Some of them will celebrate it on the floor of the House if it happens. They won't be able to help themselves.
The 80 or so first-year Tea Party types in the House are as eager as college protesters taking over the Ad Building a generation ago. They want to shut the place down as an act of protest against what they regard -- not entirely without reason -- as a runaway, run-amok government.
But you know they are way out there when Rep. Michelle Bachmann -- yes, her -- says shutting down the government would be a bad idea.
And they would be shutting things down in the name of some cuts that it will be easy enough for the president and his Democratic allies to cry havoc about: cuts to the FBI, state and local law enforcement, and the Food and Drug Administration, just to name three.
Nor will the Republicans be operating on favorable political terrain.
To be sure, Obama is not popular: his approval rating is 47 percent in Gallup; his "reelect" against a generic Republican is only 45 percent. People take a dim view of his handling of the economy, and remain gloomy about where the country is headed economically, even if they feel a little better about their own situation.
But the Republicans' approval rating is 47 percent, too, and that of Congress as a whole remains a starkly anemic 25 percent. That doesn't suggest the Republicans are dealing from strength.
More important, even though people say they care about balancing the budget, polls show that they care much more about unemployment and maintaining their government benefits. If the GOP is shutting down the government in the name of fiscal responsibility -- and that will be the claim -- they will have to answer for the immediate disruptive consequences of doing so. It'll be a hard sell. And if a million or more federal workers are suddenly sent home, that looks like more temporary unemployment, no matter who the employer is.
Republicans have decided to make enemies of public employees, but it is hard to demonize them when they have suddenly been told to stay home.
And other consequences will be real. Forget the hyperbole and focus on the one thing that matters most: Social Security. The last time there was a shutdown, in 1995, the distribution of checks was disrupted. This time, there are more people involved and fewer of them will have to wait for the mail before voicing their displeasure.
Some 60 million Americans now receive Social Security payments of one kind or another. According to the Social Security Administration, some 80 percent of them receive their money in the form of a direct deposit. And keep in mind that, in 2008, voters 65 and older went heavily Republican, voting by a 52-to-44 margin for Sen. John McCain over then-Sen. Barack Obama. Does the GOP really want to risk its rep with one of its own constituencies?
The first wave of Social Security deposits after a shutdown -- to about 12-15 million people -- is scheduled to go out on March 10.
That's the date when the plane really does crash.
President Obama takes over coach duties for daughter Sasha's basketball team
Saturday, February 19th 2011, 2:26 PM
Obama is a huge basketball fan.
President Obama spent part of Saturday giving executive orders as coach of his daughter's basketball team.
The commander in chief grabbed the reins of 9-year-old Sasha's team even though his wife Michelle, Sasha and oldest daughter, Malia, were on a ski holiday in Vail, Colo.
No White House journalists were inside and the results of the game, played at a community center in Maryland, were unknown.
The President attends most of Sasha's games. He coached on Saturday because the usual parent who runs the team was absent, The Associated Press reported.
The Obamas at a college hoops game last November. Vucci/AP
Basketball is by far Obama's favorite sport and he's attended several college and NBA games since becoming President and frequently shoots hoops at his White House court.
With News Wire Services
Mark Wattier, Murray State Prof, Resigns After Insulting Black Student Arlene Johnson
First Posted: 02/18/11 11:41 AM Updated: 02/18/11 11:52 AM
A Murray State University professor has resigned after allegedly making racial remarks to a black student.
Mark Wattier, a political science professor, told freshman Arlene Johnson last August that he wasn't surprised that she didn't show up on time to a film he started 15 minutes before class began.
The Murray Ledger and Times has more:
Arlene Johnson, a freshman from Sikeston, Mo., told the Ledger & Times in a telephone interview that one day in August, she came to class early to find that a film was already in progress. She said that after class, she and another student asked professor Mark Wattier why the film had started before the official start time of the class, and she said he told them that when screening films, he typically started them 10-15 minutes before class.
"We said, 'Well, we didn't know that. It wasn't on the syllabus, so we were unaware,'" Johnson said. "And then he said, 'Well, it's OK, I expect it of you guys anyway.' We asked him, 'What did that mean?' And he said the slaves never showed up on time, so their owners often lashed them for it. He just didn't have the right."
Wattier was originally suspended without pay from the university. He appealed his suspension and claimed that he was depressed. According to the Western Kentucky Star, Wattier wrote in an e-mail that he challenged the suspension so he could "express his regret" to Johnson.
Johnson, at the very least, wants an in-person apology. "I deserve that," she said.
LINK TO PHOTO OF WATTIER:
Son accused of helping man rob his father in fatal Perry Hall home invasion
Victim shot, killed intruder in March; younger Bozman arrested in Fla.
William Bozman Jr. (Handout photo / February 18, 2011)
The Baltimore Sun
6:59 p.m. EST
February 18, 2011
When 69-year-old William E. Bozman Sr. awoke with a gun pointed at his head, then fatally shot the intruder dead inside his Perry Hall home last year, it appeared he had put an end to a violent home invasion.
But Baltimore County police concluded that the 2008 attack on the towing company owner was not random. This week, authorities charged Bozman's son with setting up the robbery at his father's home on Chapel Road.
The twist adds a new dimension to the case, but a spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department said he had no new information to add and could not describe how homicide detectives linked the man who was killed to the victim's son.
William E. Bozman Jr., 44, was arrested Tuesday on a fugitive warrant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and is being held without bail pending extradition to Maryland to face charges that include conspiracy to commit armed robbery, burglary, assault and using a handgun in the commission of a violent crime.
Formal charging documents won't be available until the younger Bozman is arraigned in Baltimore County District Court, which could take weeks. The arrest affidavit provided by police in Fort Lauderdale contains few details about what happened in Perry Hall or the alleged connection to the man his father shot. It's unclear whether police believe the son was in his father's home at the time of the attack, but they previously had not indicated that a second person was involved.
Police have said that Marvin Cook Jr., 29, broke into the Bozman house shortly before 6 a.m. March 28, 2008, and made his way to the master bedroom. There, police said, he threatened the elder Bozman with a handgun and demanded money. Police in Florida said Cook ordered the victim to open a safe.
Baltimore County police said the elder Bozman retrieved his own gun and pointed it at Cook, who walked toward him. Police said Bozman than shot Cook several times in the chest. Police did not charge the elder Bozman and said the shooting appeared justified.
Police found Cook's driver's license, which led them to his mother's house in Baltimore, but she told them she had not spoken to her son in years. Cook had a lengthy criminal record that included a conviction for attempted murder in 2002 and two drug offenses.
The elder Bozman declined to comment after the incident, and he did not return telephone messages left on his business phone at B&B Towing. There was no answer at his Perry Hall home. Relatives for Cook also could not be reached.
Police in Fort Lauderdale said that members of the FBI Joint Fugitive Task Force arrested the younger Bozman about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday at a house on Southwest Way. Baltimore County police did not provide any information about the arrest.
The younger Bozman has faced several criminal charges in Maryland, most involving charges of failing to obey protective orders issued in domestic cases. But he has had more serious trouble in Florida, where he has been convicted of several felonies dating back to 1985.
He had been sentenced in 1988 to two years in jail in Broward County for cocaine possession, to eight years in prison in Fort Lauderdale for auto theft and gun possession in 1992, and to five years in prison in 1993, also in Fort Lauderdale, for robbery.
America's healthiest fast-food breakfasts
February 18, 2011 8:26 a.m. EST
Starbucks sampler scores high for having all the components of an ultra-satisfying breakfast.
Used to be, when you grabbed breakfast on the go, it was a diet disaster: nothing but fat-and-calorie bombs like butter-soaked croissants and jumbo muffins. Now, it's much easier to do right by your body: Fast-food legends like McDonald's and IHOP, as well as newbies like Cosi and Panera Bread, offer surprisingly healthy options that are filling, light, and much easier on your arteries.
The key to finding a healthy breakfast, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, is finding a good-for-you mix of complex carbs (like whole grains), protein, and healthy fats to keep you satisfied.
So with that in mind, we asked our team of experts to choose and rank the best a.m. grub. Here, the standouts -- and why each one made the cut.
1. Spinach Florentine Breakfast Wrap (Cosi)
Meet the breakfast wrap that packs nearly as much protein as a burger. That's an award-worthy benefit: "When you wake up, your body hasn't had fuel for about 10 to 12 hours," says Dr. Gerbstadt, one of our judges. So this standout refuels you and keeps you satisfied so you don't overnosh the rest of the day.
"With most other breakfasts, you would need to add another food to get this much protein," Gerbstadt explains. "Plus, the fiber content is much higher than you'd usually find in such a high-protein meal."
Calories 334; Fat 21g (sat 8g); Protein 24g; Carbohydrate 21g; Fiber 11g; Sodium 516mg
Room for improvement: The fat content is on the high side (since the wrap is made with eggs), so eat low-fat fare throughout the day -- or split this hearty pick with a friend.
2. Protein Artisan Snack Plate (Starbucks)
This Starbucks sampler scores high for having all the components of an ultra-satisfying breakfast -- protein, fiber, whole grains, and fresh produce, says panelist Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, senior food and nutrition editor at Health magazine.
You get to nibble on yummy fare -- hard-boiled egg, cheddar and apple slices, multigrain muesli bread, grapes, and honey peanut butter spread -- in the right portions, Largeman-Roth explains: "It's like a healthy tapas plate for breakfast."
Calories 370; Fat 19g (sat 6g); Protein 13g; Carbohydrate 36g; Fiber 4g; Sodium 470mg
Room for improvement: Along with all that protein and fiber, you get 19 grams of fat. Tip: Eat half of either the honey peanut butter spread or the cheese.
3. Berry Topper Ideal Meal (Jamba Juice)
The name is spot on. "It really is an ideal meal because it meets all of your nutrient needs," says judge and nutrition expert Robin Miller, the host of Quick Fix Meals on the Food Network.
It's made with yogurt and soy milk, great sources of calcium and vitamin D two nutrients women often lack. Also blended in are vitamin C--packed strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. And the organic pumpkin flaxseed granola gives you a dose of healthy fats for heart health.
Calories 300; Fat 4.5g (sat 0.5g); Protein 9g; Carbohydrate 59g; Fiber 7g; Sodium 85mg (for 12 ounces)
Room for improvement: Stick to the small (12-ounce) size -- larger serving sizes load on the calories.
4. Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (Au Bon Pain)
It's no surprise that two oatmeals made our list. Oatmeal is a favorite among dietitians because it contains two kinds of fiber: the insoluble kind, which helps prevent constipation, and the soluble type, which digests slowly to help regulate blood sugar.
"Oatmeal is more filling than many other cereals," Gerbstadt explains. Au Bon Pain's oatmeal edged past the McDonald's version (#6) because it has less saturated fat and sodium, plus more protein and fiber. Still, you can't go wrong with either.
Calories 280; Fat 4g (sat 1g); Protein 8g; Carbohydrate 56g; Fiber 7g; Sodium 10mg
Room for improvement: The protein content is a bit low: Make it more filling by eating a few nuts or a yogurt on the side.
5. Scrambled Egg Whites, Chicken Sausage, and Fruit (Denny's)
Yes, you can have eggs and sausage! But pass over the Grand Slam menu and look for these better-for-you breakfast "sides" to design your own morning meal. "This is a really well-rounded breakfast," Largeman-Roth says. It's not too high in sodium, either; a surprise for a sausage breakfast, she says.
Calories 230; Fat 9g (sat 0g); Protein 19g; Carbohydrate 19g; Fiber 3g; Sodium 447mg
Room for improvement: Order a piece of whole-grain toast (without butter or margarine) to increase the fiber factor, adding about 100 more calories.
6. Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (McDonald's)
The judges praised McDonald's for adding this good-for-you pick with fresh fruit to its menu (breakfast antioxidants at the drive-through -- nice). This tasty treat includes diced green and red apples, dried cranberries, raisins, a touch of cream, and brown sugar. Plus oatmeal's soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar, helping to fight off diabetes, Largeman-Roth says.
Calories 260; Fat 4.5g (sat 1.5g); Protein 7g; Carbohydrate 48g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 115mg (for oatmeal without brown sugar)
Room for improvement: Watching calories? Order it without the brown sugar to save 30 calories. "You won't miss it with all the fruity flavors," Largeman-Roth explains.
7. Simple & Fit Veggie Omelette (IHOP)
A veggie omelette is a great way to sneak more nutrient- and fiber-rich produce into your power breakfast, Miller says. In this case you get a flavor-fest of green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and oven-roasted tomatoes. "And the side of fruit adds a nice (sweet) touch," she says.
Calories 320; Fat 10g (sat 1g); Protein 21g; Carbohydrate 40g; Fiber 8g; Sodium 420mg
Room for improvement: This omelette is made with "egg substitute" (which contains mostly egg whites); if you prefer the real thing, ask your server to substitute egg whites instead.
8. Western Egg White & Cheese Muffin Melt (Subway)
For just 160 calories, this melt with egg whites, Black Forest ham, green peppers, American and Monterey Jack cheeses, and red onion stacked on an English muffin lets you eat light without feeling even a little bit deprived.
Don't like peppers or onions? Order your melt with fresh tomatoes and spinach instead. If you want something more substantial, round out your meal with Subway's packaged apple slices or yogurt.
Calories 160; Fat 4g (sat 1.5g); Protein 15g; Carbohydrate 19g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 680mg
Room for improvement: This pick didn't show up higher on our list because the sodium count is high.
9. Egg White Turkey Sausage Wake-Up Wrap (Dunkin' Donuts)
No need to deprive yourself if you're watching calories and fat: The reduced-fat cheddar cheese, egg whites, spinach, and turkey sausage in this winner from Dunkin' Donuts make this a healthy indulgence.
Calories 150; Fat 5g (sat 2.5g); Protein 11g; Carbohydrate 14g; Fiber 1g; Sodium 400mg
Room for improvement: This pick tastes rich, but it's small, so it may not keep you full for as long as the egg options higher on our list, Largeman-Roth explains. It's also low in filling fiber, so pair it with a piece of fruit for more fuel.
10. Breakfast Power Sandwich (Panera Bread)
This egg, Vermont white cheddar, and smoked lean ham sandwich serves up as much protein as a 3.5-ounce fish fillet, Gerbstadt says.
Also praiseworthy, she adds, is Panera's whole-grain bread. Made of rye, spelt, amaranth, and flax, it's brimming with good-for-you nutrients like vitamin B2, niacin, manganese, iron, magnesium, and selenium.
Calories 330; Fat 14g (sat 6g); Protein 22g; Carbohydrate 31g; Fiber 4g; Sodium 830mg.
Room for improvement: "This sandwich has a lot of sodium," Largeman-Roth notes. But you can slash 300 milligrams simply by ordering it without the smoked ham
Stephen Colbert vs. Arianna Huffington: what their spat is really about
The dispute bubbled up earlier this week when Stephen Colbert complained about The Huffington Post embedding his videos without sending proper payment.
February 18, 2011
Stephen Colbert and Arianna Huffington are grown-ups, right? Yeah, well, in a channeling-their-inner-digital-child sort of way.
The two are in the midst of an electronic sandbox spat over who is poaching whose online content without properly paying up. Each is one-upping the other with cute moves and fancy talk.
But Mr. Colbert, the Comedy Central host, is never clowning about an issue without something else on his mind, longtime satire experts point out. So, what the heck is going on as these two masters of Internet self-promotion continue to lob cyber sand at one another?
The feud bubbled up earlier this week when Colbert complained about The Huffington Post, Ms. Huffingtons website, embedding his videos on the site without sending along proper payment. I have yet to receive my percentage of the Huff bucks, he complained to his studio audience.
Colbert then posted The Huffington Post on a new website he dubbed The Colbuffington Re-post. Ms. Huffington returned the favor with a newly christened site, Huffbert Nation.
Now, Colbert is cautioning his audience against clicking on the reposted repost, saying, Its like a Russian nesting doll of intellectual theft.
It may be tempting to call for a tired-baby timeout. But all Comedy Central has to do to resolve the issue is deny permission, points out intellectual-property lawyer Mitchell Stein, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester in New York. The Huffington Post cant embed video from any site if that site doesnt give permission, he says.
Assuming that permission is actually being granted in this case, whats the real beef?
This is really about Colbert raising the issue of what original content really means in todays Internet-savvy world, says Amber Day, author of the just-published book, Satire and Dissent: Interventions in Contemporary Political Debate.
Colbert is also drawing attention to the opposite of original content the websites (including The Huffington Post) that aggregate content produced by other websites. By raising this issue, says Ms. Day, Colbert is pushing his agenda of getting people to think about where their opinions and ideas really originate.
This is his way, she says, of asking the question: If everyone is just quoting everyone else, who is actually doing original thought?
This question lies at the heart of the Internets next big evolutionary stage, says social-media expert and tech entrepreneur Michael Hussey, CEO of PeekYou.com. The goal of using other websites content, he says, is to maximize the position of ones own website in the search-engine listings. This is a commonly used technique known as search engine optimization and can boost ad revenues online.
Other peoples content is a huge attention-grabber for a content-aggregating website such as The Huffington Post. They are masters of the tool, Mr. Hussey points out. This is a main reason, he adds, that AOL recently scooped up the six-year-old site for $315 million and made Ms. Huffington the head of all AOL content.
But Google, the largest Internet search engine, has been under pressure to cut back on search results that dont point to the original sources, Hussey says. If Google begins to de-emphasize sites that are based on aggregating other peoples content, he adds, this could be a game-changer for sites such as The Huffington Post.
All those people who just bought stock in AOL better pay attention, he says.
But if an everyone is doing it ethos governs much of what is aggregated on the Internet, there are still lines between what is legal and illegal, points out media expert Paul Levinson, author of New New Media. We may be in a fluid stage in our concept of intellectual-property rights, but that doesnt mean you can simply profit from the work of others with no limits, he says.
'Black Thanksgiving' commences in L.A. this weekend
Special to CNN
February 18, 2011 2:21 p.m. EST
Basketball fans flock to All-Star weekend events to see players like Kobe Bryant up close.
David Aldridge is a longtime NBA reporter and columnist for NBA.com. He also is an analyst for TNT.
(CNN) -- So, you want to know about Black Thanksgiving?
That's what sports writer Mike Wilbon calls NBA All-Star Weekend.
First of all, what you need to know about Wilbon, whom I love, is that he has been known to exaggerate just a touch on occasion. But on this one, he's on point.
For those of us who cover the NBA for a living, like me and Wilbon -- now an ESPN yakker and writer, formerly a Washington Post yakker and writer, and my friend --All-Star Weekend is a long four days of work.
But for most of the people who descend into town -- this year it's Los Angeles, with its still sparkling Staples Center and the surrounding "L.A. Live" area -- it's an opportunity to go wild (sometimes a little too wild, as happened in Las Vegas a few years ago) and get together.
Other folks have Tweetups. Black people have All-Star Weekend, or ASW. It's a national holiday, sort of.
ASW is the only time of the year that people call me. I don't say that to be maudlin, 'cause most of the time, I don't want people to call me. (Dirty little secret: I don't really like talking on the phone.) But they come out of the woodwork this time of year, because NBA players are royalty in Black America, and everyone wants to be near them. The old saying is that ballers want to be rappers, and rappers want to be ballers. That's really, really true.
Basketball is a culture. It isn't for everyone, though the game is loved by people of all colors. There is a rhythm to it, just as if McCoy Tyner was dribbling a ball instead of playing piano.
"Considering that the culture of basketball in a predominantly black league like the NBA is so strongly connected to African American culture, the NBA All-Star weekend has turned into a celebration of African American culture by extension," says Todd Boyd, professor of critical studies at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.
The season begins just as baseball's ends, when the days grow short and the weather turns windy and cold. The tempo is slow at first, like the beginning strains of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," but then, just as with Coltrane, it picks up steam. Rookies like the Clippers' Blake Griffin find their voice, and their game blossoms, as the calendar turns to a new year. While older, wiser veteran players and teams tinker here and there, not much interested in the daily standings, knowing that the important games come in the spring. They can wait.
The NBA Twitterverse keeps track of it all, a nightly update on who's up, who's down. It's a community that needs no self-adulation, no monstrous celebration of itself, like the NFL and its Super Bowl, which is fine if you like naked commerce wrapped in patriotism.
ASW is an integral part of the calendar, a time for assessment. Coming less than a week before the NBA's trade deadline, it is a time when teams take a look at their roster and decide whether its good enough to be a contender, or if it's time to start rebuilding for next season.
Sure, new shoes from stars like Kobe Bryant are launched during ASW, and the street vendors try to make a buck selling knockoff Ts. But more than anything, ASW is about access. Because basketball players in general -- and NBA players in particular -- are so visible to their fans, there is a sense of closeness to them that people don't have toward football stars. In football, you root for the uniform. In basketball, you root for Kobe or LeBron James. And so, having the opportunity to be close to them in a social setting trumps all good common sense and proportion.
People will drive for eight hours, fly across the country, take a stagecoach, whatever it takes. Most people who come to ASW, you see, have no tickets for anything. They certainly have no tickets for the game or the dunk contest or three-point shooting contest. (The NBA doles out most of the seats to their corporate partners and those partners' families and friends).
The hope is to get into the numerous, almost unending parties that promulgate the weekend. They're like our solar system. The parties furthest from the orbit of actual NBA players are usually the cheapest and easiest to get into, no more difficult than a garden variety Friday night at your local hip-hop spot.
Then there are parties "sponsored" or "hosted" by an All-Star (Allen Iverson was famous for these), where there's a chance the actual player will show up at some point. If they do, it's usually late in the evening, after they've gone to the more swank parties. They're almost always surrounded by security and quickly wind up in the VIP section, walled off from their adoring fans. (Although, truth be told, occasionally a young, attractive woman may, somehow, be let inside the velvet ropes.)
Then there are parties that the All-Stars actually sponsor, usually for a charity or some such cause, such as Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning's celebrity pool tournament. The "Players' Party," sponsored by its union, is the most sought-after ticket of ASW. The few tickets and passes to these events go out quickly and quietly to assorted friends, sponsors, media (yes, I get invited to a few) and fellow ballers. Unless you have an "in," these are very difficult to get into. Which is why people call. I try not to have tickets on purpose for this very reason; somehow, word always leaks out when you have an extra pair, and you suddenly become the most interesting man in the world.
But it really doesn't matter to a lot of folks if they get into any of these events. The important thing is being there -- with your best girlfriend, or the fellas, or your frat. There may be some people who try to take advantage of all the money and the bling that come to town. But that's not the vibe that runs through ASW. It's a party, to be sure. But it also is a family portrait.
"Baseball's Negro League All-Star Game was once the biggest national black social event of the year." Boyd of USC said. "It seems that the NBA All-Star Game serves a similar purpose now, but on a much bigger platform."
Warts and all, it celebrates the extended community --the incredible athletic, improvisational ability of the NBA's best players; the incredible economic power of those stars, the sway they hold over the media and corporate America, a reality that would not have been thinkable 40 years ago.
CNN 'Black Thanksgiving' NBA Article Stirs Controversy
First Posted: 02-18-11 04:35 PM | Updated: 02-18-11 04:41 PM Huffington Post
CNN is stirring controversy with an article that calls the upcoming NBA All-Star Game "Black Thanksgiving."
The article, by longtime NBA analyst David Aldridge, calls All Star Weekend a "national holiday" for African Americans, and quotes USC professor Todd Boyd as saying that "the NBA All-Star weekend has turned into a celebration of African American culture by extension."
The article also ran in the middle of the front page of CNN's home page. But some of the hundreds of commenters who flooded the story were not happy. "Shame on you CNN for perpetuating the racism in America...and for what, to get readers? Are you that desperate?" commenter yippidy wrote.
"You managed to include every Black stereotype known to the Western world in this article," rockhanna said.
The article drew a big response on Twitter as well.
Were His Dogs' New Owners or PETA Behind Michael Vick's Oprah Audible?
February 18, 2011| FoxNews.com
Michael Vick will appear on Oprah's show
What caused Michael Vick to get cold feet and pull out of his Oprah interview?
Oprah Winfrey said Thursday that Vick canceled an interview with her scheduled for next week.
"He said personal reasons," Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter. "We did a field trip with him. We had been shooting with Michael Vick. And the fact that he pulled out and all his peopleWe move on."
Could those "personal reasons" have something to do with the people who now own and care for the dogs he abused?
Some owners of dogs rescued from his dogfighting ring said he pulled out of the interview because he did not want to be confronted by them on TV, the New York Post reports.
Vick, who served 21 months in prison before resurrecting his NFL career with the Eagles, pulled out of a rare TV interview after the dog owners contacted Winfrey's producers asking for the chance to confront him on "Oprah," one claims.
"One of the adopters was contacted by one of Oprah's producers Tuesday night, who said there was preliminary interest in doing something with the dogs," said Richard Hunter, a Dallas radio personality who adopted one of the dogs. "Then, that same night, Vick's rep told Oprah's producers he was backing out [of the interview]. It would certainly be a coincidence if one didn't have something to do with the other."
FOX411s Pop Tarts also learned that after being informed of the planned interview, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to Oprah to express their concerns that Vick may win her over with his tricks.
Oprah was our Person of the Year in 2009 for championing the causes against factory farming and fur. However, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, who met privately with Michael Vick, wrote to Oprah with a concern over her upcoming interview, a representation from the animal rights organization said. We wanted to make sure that Oprah does not fall for the trick that Vick tried on PETA, saying that, to him, pet dogs were different from the avatars used in his fighting pit.
Although the NFL star told Newkirk when they met that he viewed his pet differently, a U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on his dog fighting activities revealed that he even threw his own family dogs into the fighting pit to be torn to shreds while he laughed.
"Just as convicted pedophiles aren't allowed free access to children, anyone who is responsible for hanging, electrocuting, or shooting dogs and who got a rush out of killing them, as he admitted and his friends confirmed, and who caused them to suffer in other horrific ways, should never again be allowed access to dogs, Newkirk wrote in the letter to Winfrey.
Since going to jail for the dogfighting ring, Vick has been working with the Humane Societys anti-dog fighting program, and the organization argues he should be able to own a canine once again.
It is too soon for Michael Vick to have a dog. Pet-keeping is a privilege and he lost that privilege when he committed atrocious acts of cruelty in the months and years before his arrest in 2007, The Humane Society of the United States' President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote in a recent http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2010/12/michael-vick-pet.html blog. I do think that if his rehabilitation progresses and he handles the probation period flawlessly, it could be a good thing for Michael Vicks family to have a pet at the end of that process."
- Deidre Behar contributed to this report
4 Inch Dagger Discovered in Man's Head
X-rays of man with 4 inch dagger in head
KTLA News 12:19 p.m. PST, February 17, 2011
Forensics Under the Microscope
More courts are starting to question the facts proved by scientific evidence.
February 17, 2011
Warren Horinek did not murder his wife. Thats what he said, thats what the medical examiner said, thats what the homicide sergeant said. Even the district attorneys office in the Horineks hometown of Ft. Worth, Texas, agreed that he was innocentnot something a Texas prosecutor typically says. But when Bonnie Horinek died in 1995, her parents refused to believe what the evidence strongly suggestedthat Bonnie shot herselfand instead they enlisted the services of a blood-spatter analyst to prove that it was their son-in-law who had killed their daughter.
The spatter analyst zeroed in on the blood-soaked T shirt Horinek was wearing when the paramedics arrived. To him, the fine spray of blood on Horineks left shoulder was not from administering CPR, as Warren said it was, and as the 911 recording seemed to indicate, but from shooting Bonnie at close range. On the basis of that testimony, Horinek was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years. But did they really get their man? Horineks lawyers have filed a writ of habeas corpus to try to have him released, based in part on the National Academys report; much of the spatter analysts testimony, the lawyers argue, was contrary to known and accepted science.
In the age of CSI and Dexter, were led to believe that forensic science is a high-tech discipline, powerful and sophisticated enough to catch any criminal.
As it turns out, whether blood-spatter analysis and disciplines like it qualify as science at all is a matter of increasing debate. In a sharply critical report issued in 2009, the National Academy of Sciences said, The simple reality is that the interpretation of forensic evidence is not always based on scientific studies. Taking aim at disciplines as varied as ballistics, hair and fiber analysis, bite-mark comparisoneven fingerprintsthe report declared, This is a serious problem.
The last few years have seemed to bear out the report. Dozens of elite crime labs all over the country, from Nassau County, N.Y., to San Francisco, to Virginia, Cleveland, Oklahoma, and Baltimore, have been involved in scandals involving mishandled evidence and false or misleading forensic testimony. This past summer, a North Carolina attorney generals audit discovered that the states Bureau of Investigation had withheld or distorted evidence in more than 200 cases.
Even some of the best funded and most sophisticated crime-fighting organizations are being taken to task for their use of forensic evidence. This week, the New York Times reported that the Federal Buerau of Investigation had overstated the strenght of genetic analysis during the investigation of Bruce E. Ivins, who allegedly mailed anthrax to newsrooms and Senate offices in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
A year-long investigation by the independent journalism nonprofit ProPublica revealed major problems in the nations coroner system: pathologists not certified in pathology, physicians who flunk their board exams, even coroners who are not physicians at all. In nearly 1,600 counties across the country, the investigation found, elected or appointed coroners who may have no qualifications beyond a high-school degree have the final say on whether fatalities are homicides, suicides, accidents or the result of natural or undetermined causes.
For his forthcoming book, Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong (Harvard University Press, April 2011), University of Virginia law professor Brandon Garrett examined the trial transcripts and other legal documents of the first 250 people to be exonerated by DNA in this country. He discovered that in more than half these cases, trials were tainted by invalid, unreliable, concealed, or erroneous forensic evidence. The errors ranged from analysts making up statistics on the fly, implying that their methods were more scientific than they actually were, and exaggerating or distorting their findings to support the prosecution.
Peter Neufeld, a lawyer in New York and cofounder of the Innocence Project, which has helped to facilitate many of these exonerations, calls it the elastic expert: no matter what you see, I can distort it so that it would be a match.
This elasticity is possible because the tests are largely subjective. Just how much human judgment is required depends on the discipline: DNA testing is mostlythough not entirelydone by machine, for instance, whereas microscopic hair comparison is based solely on the analysts opinion. Even fingerprints, which many of us regard as foolproof tools for identifying culpritsthink Dexter feeding a print into his computer and a bad guys photo and drivers license appearing on the screenin fact rely largely on human interpretation, and therefore are subject to human error.
One of the most famous examples of the danger of fingerprints was the case of Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield, arrested in 2004 in the wake of the Madrid train bombings. Working from a partial print that Spanish authorities had found on a plastic bag of detonators, several top FBI analysts declared Mayfields print a match. That is, until Spanish authorities identified Ouhnane Daoud, now wanted for terrorism in connection to the crime. When it became clear that Daouds prints were a much better match, the FBI was forced to admit that its own bias and circular reasoning had led them to Mayfield, who had no involvement in the bombings.
Part of the problem is what social scientists call context bias. Most forensics labs are located within police departments, so analysts may see themselves as working for the prosecution. They also usually have information about the evidence theyre testingfor example, that the suspect has a prior record. Theres a lot of research to suggest that knowledge could have biasing effect, says Jennifer Mnookin, a professor at the UCLA School of Law.
In a recent Supreme Court case, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that whether consciously or not, an analyst responding to a request from a law enforcement official may feel pressureor have an incentiveto alter the evidence in a manner favorable to the prosecution. The judges ruling means that forensic test results may be subject to the same kind of scrutiny as any other evidence, and an analyst from the lab that ran the test must be present in court to be cross-examined, just like any other witness.
Obviously, most people in this community are trying to do their jobs well and are not trying to frame innocent people, says the University of Virginias Garrett. But what weve seen come out of these exoneration cases and in additional scandals at the laboratories is that this is not a problem of a few bad apples. Who is the competent analyst that can testify about a technique thats fundamentally unreliable? Thats not a bad-apple problem. Thats a serious problem with our entire system.
At the heart of these criticisms is the issue of what scientists call validity and reliability. A test is valid if its results are factually accurate. A test is reliable if multiple tests will lead to the same conclusion. Some forensics tests, like blood typing, are very reliable: no matter how many times your doctor draws your blood, you will always have the same blood type. Occasionally there are mistakes, of course, but they are predictable: blood-typing tests have well-documented and well-understood error rates. Others, like hair comparison, are unreliable: studies have shown that multiple technicians examining the same two hairseven the same technician examining the same two hairs at different timescome to multiple conclusions. Critics say that many of forensic sciences most basic tools are neither reliable nor valid.
For example, at the trial of Jimmy Ray Bromgard, who served more than 14 years of a 40-year sentence for sexual intercourse without consent until he was exonerated in 2002, the director of the Montana State Crime Lab told the jury that hairs found on a blanket in the victims house matched hairs taken from Bromgards body. There were so many hairs that matched so well, the analyst said, that there was a one in 10,000 chance the hairs could have come from anyone else.
But no one has ever established any statistics about the microscopic characteristics of hair, so one in 10,000 odds isnt based on scientific consensus. How common is it for a person to have a particular hair color, or for a hair to crinkle or curl just so? Scientists have never answered that question systematically. And what does match mean, anyway? There are no uniform guidelines to say how many characteristics two hairs must have in common before theyre said to match. It varies entirely from one lab to the next, from one technician to the next.
Barry Fisher, who served as the crime-laboratory director for the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department for more than 20 years, was often stymied by this problem when he took the stand. How do you convey the level of certainty? Fisher asks. Do you say to the jury, Im pretty sure? Im very sure? What do these things mean?
To get around this problem, Garrett found, forensics experts too often overreach in their testimony.
When Ray Krone was convicted of murder in Arizona and sentenced to death in 1995, the testimony of a bite-mark analyst was key to the states case. This is really an excellent match, the analyst said on the stand, comparing Krones teeth with a bite mark on the murder victim. That tooth caused that injury.
In fact, in its report the National Academy of Sciences found that, among all the forensic disciplines, only DNA has proved capable of individualizationthat is, demonstrating a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source. When the DNA in the Krone case was tested year later, he was exonerated, but only after spending a decade in prison.
The report has led a small but growing number of judges to take a more skeptical approach to forensics. In addition to the Supreme Court case, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner announced in March that she will allow forensic evidence in her courtroom only if a lawyer first proves in a pretrial hearing that the method is scientifically sound. In the past, the admissibility of this kind of evidence was effectively presumed, largely because of the fact that it had been admitted for decades, Judge Gertner wrote in her order. The NAS report suggests a different calculus.
The National Institute of Justice has funded some preliminary studies to establish the scientific information that has so far been missing; UCLAs Mnookin and her colleagues are less than a year into a two-and-a-half-year grant to develop a more formalized and scientifically validated approach to fingerprint analysis. Its not that we know that they dont work, Mnookin says of fingerprints and other forensic methods. Its that we dont have enough evidence about when they work, how they work, when they might not work. The report also led to a series of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. In January Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt. introduced a bill to address some of the major issues in the nations forensic system. The The Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Reform Act takes up many of the issues identified in the NAS report. Although the report has gotten a chilly reception from many forensics experts and prosecutors, many others in the field, like Fisher, believe reforms in the system are long overdue.
Geoffrey Mearns, a former federal prosecutor who helped try both Oklahoma City bombers Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, regularly used forensics in his work. Mearns served on the committee that wrote the academys report. I had assumed that there were well-established uniform processes and procedures in place. I really had faith in the accuracy, reliability, and that it was well grounded in science, says Mearns, now provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Cleveland State University. When I realized my faith was not well placed, I was very concerned about the damage that it was doing to the accuracy and efficiency of law-enforcement investigations. Because if the science is not accurate, and is leading us to the wrong person, its not only causing a terrible injury to the wrong person, but its leading you away from the right person.
The 265 innocent people so far exonerated by DNA are lucky. Among the hundreds, if not thousands of people that the Innocence Projects Peter Neufeld estimates were wrongfully convicted on the basis of faulty forensics, only a small percentage have DNA available to test. What is their recourse? Neufeld says his organization is counseling attorneys to submit a writ of habeas corpusthe legal systems document of last resorton the basis of newly discovered evidence: the fact that forensic science is not as scientific as it purported to be at the time of trial. However, given the reluctance of judges to ever set aside convictions with anything less than DNA, says Neufeld, I am not as optimistic as I would like to be despite the fact that theres a matter of fairness.
One of those exonerated after 15 years in prison was Roy Brown. He was convicted of murder in 1992 and sentenced to 25 years to life, partly on the basis of a bite-mark analyst who said that Browns teeth matched a wound on the victim to a reasonable degree of dental certainty. The fact that whoever had bitten the victim had six teeth on his upper jawthe wound clearly had six impressionswhereas Roy Brown had only four was inconsistent, the analyst admitted, but explainably so in my opinion.
DNA proved him innocent in 2006.
Beth Schwartzapfel is a Brooklyn freelance journalist with an interest in criminal justice issues.
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Michael Jackson's estate makes whopping $310 million since singer's drug overdose death in 2009Nancy Dillon
Thursday, February 17th 2011, 7:39 PM
Mariant/APMichael Jackson, pictured in 2005, died in June 2009 from a drug overdose.
LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson's estate keeps raking in the cash.
A new accounting of the King of Pop's posthumous empire shows executors have made a whopping $310 million since the singer's death from a drug overdose in June 2009.
The Jackson kingdom, once on the verge of collapse with $400 million owed various creditors, has been able to pay down roughly $159 million in debts and expenses, new documents first obtained by TMZ.com reveal.
The "This Is It" movie has been a huge contributor, grossing more than $261 million worldwide, according to boxofficemojo.com.
And then there are the sizable music and merchandising deals.
The behemoth estate has paid for "substantial improvements" to the famous Jackson family compound in Encino, Calif., and supports Jackson's mother and three kids.
Still, Katherine Jackson has complained publicly that the $7,000 to $8,000 cash allowance she receives each month has not been enough to cover expenses.
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Boy Without a Cerebellum Baffles Doctors
Feb 12, 2011 ? 1:42 PM
Heather and David Britton want everyone to understand a few things about their giggling, bespectacled 3-year-old son, Chase.
"He's happy. We call him the Little Gremlin. He loves to play tricks on people. He loves to sing. His goal in life is to make people smile," Heather Britton told AOL News.
"He's got so much love around him. We're an extremely happy family. His story is not tragic."
But to an outsider, the Brittons' story might seem heartbreaking.
Another son, Trey, was born 11 weeks early and only expected to live moments. Instead, he died six weeks after his birth in 2008, on the same day he was scheduled to receive a liver transplant. Cleared to get pregnant again, the couple was thrilled when Chase was conceived, Britton said. They were eager to give older son Alex, 13, a sibling.
Chase was also born prematurely, and he was legally blind. When he was 1 year old, doctors did an MRI, expecting to find he had a mild case of cerebral palsy. Instead, they discovered he was completely missing his cerebellum -- the part of the brain that controls motor skills, balance and emotions.
"That's when the doctor called and didn't know what to say to us," Britton said in a telephone interview. "No one had ever seen it before. And then we'd go to the neurologists and they'd say, 'That's impossible.' 'He has the MRI of a vegetable,' one of the doctors said to us."
Chase is not a vegetable, leaving doctors bewildered and experts rethinking what they thought they knew about the human brain.
"There are some very bright, specialized people across the country and in Europe that have put their minds to this dilemma and are continuing to do so, and we haven't come up with an answer," Dr. Adre du Plessis, chief of Fetal and Transitional Medicine at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., told Fox News affiliate WGRZ.
"So it is a mystery."
Chase also is missing his pons, the part of the brain stem that controls basic functions, such as sleeping and breathing. There is only fluid where the cerebellum and pons should be, Britton said.
Britton's pregnancy was complicated, so doctors closely monitored her. Deepening the mystery, she has detailed ultrasound pictures of Chase's brain during various stages of fetal development and the images clearly show he once had a cerebellum.
"That is actually a fundamental part of the dilemma," du Plessis told WGRZ. "If there was a cerebellum, what happened to it?"
Doctors found no signs of a brain bleed, hemorrhage or stroke, and no damage to any other part of his brain, Britton said. Technically, his diagnosis is cerebellar hypoplasia, which normally means a small cerebellum rather than a missing one.
Chase's case, du Plessis said, challenges "fundamental principles." And its impact is certain to reach far beyond one little boy and his family.
"It is cases like this that rally the support of the medical community, that harness the interest of other investigators, that stimulate people to try and find solutions," he told WGRZ, "and those repercussions will have an impact on a much broader population of kids."
But what the Brittons know is this: Chase eventually managed to sit up on his own, something he shouldn't have been able to do without a cerebellum to provide balance. Next he learned to crawl, first dragging himself military-style, then pushing himself upright. Now, he's learning to walk.
"He keeps going," his mom said. "He keeps picking up new things and progressing. We call it, 'Chase pace.'"
In the fall, Chase started going to a specialized preschool near his New York home three days a week.
"I'm in awe of him every day," Sharon Schultz, his teacher at CHC Learning Center in Williamsville, N.Y., told WGRZ.
"Things that, based on that diagnosis, he should not be able to do, he is doing. I mean, walking up and down the hall, riding a bike, holding a pencil or a pen to work on projects, using scissors."
Chase also loves to play on his Ipad with doting brother Alex. A team of therapists has been working with him since he was an infant, and he has a special "sensory room" at home full of lights and sounds and tactile things -- like mirrors -- to visually motivate him, Britton said. Soon, she hopes he can begin horseback-riding therapy.
"We're throwing as much at him as possible to make sure he's as stimulated as possible," she explained.
Her message, she said, is simple: "Don't give up on your kids."
"Don't believe everything the doctors say. Don't get me wrong. I love doctors. But they can be wrong. ... Chase is extremely healthy. And he's extremely smart -- his motor skills just haven't caught up," she told AOL News.
"People could view this as a tragic story. But that depends on how you look at life. You can be angry or you can appreciate what you have been given," she said.
"Chase was meant to be with us."
LINK TO VIDEO:
With 12 fingers, 14 toes, girl from Myanmar reaches for a world record
Sixteen-month-old Lei Yadi Min plays on a chair at her house in South Okkalarpa township on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. The Myanmar girl was born with six fingers on each hand and seven toes on each foot on Oct. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win) (Khin Maung Win, AP / February 15, 2011)
12:45 a.m. EST
February 16, 2011
LINK TO VIDEO:
Davie paying officer to not work for 7 years
Kevin Kilpatrick was put on paid leave after rift with department's top brass, his attorney says
Officer Kevin Kilpatrick has been fired twice by the Davie Police Department and won his job back both times, once through arbitration and once through a federal court settlement. (Davie Police Department, courtesy)
6:30 p.m. EST
February 15, 2011
The Davie Police Department hasn't let Officer Kevin Kilpatrick report to duty for seven years but still pays him $80,275 annually.
He has made more than $550,000 for not working.
Kilpatrick, 41, has been investigated on accusations involving a domestic abuse call cover-up as well as a DUI charge. The department fired him twice, and twice he won his job back once from an arbitrator, once from a federal judge.
"There was nothing wrong with him," said Romin Currier, Kilpatrick's attorney. "This guy was completely railroaded by the department."
Under the settlement in the federal case, Kilpatrick was supposed to return to work and get a job behind a desk.
Kilpatrick, who was hired in February 1994, has said all along that he wanted to come back to work. But his attorney says the town has put "hoops" in Kilpatrick's way, insisting that he complete a polygraph even though that was not part of the settlement. Town officials have since backed down, but are now requiring him to complete his recertification as a police officer so that he can return to work.
Town officials have argued that Kilpatrick is "permanently unfit for duty," based on the opinion of one psychologist given in December 2007. The officials say they worry the "unfit for duty" finding could make the town liable in court if Kilpatrick got involved in a shooting, Town Attorney John Rayson said.
But a more recent opinion from a psychiatrist selected by the town's pension board disputes that earlier finding. Given in August 2008, it says Kilpatrick is indeed fit for duty and able to work as a cop both mentally and physically.
"Do you think the town wants to pay him to sit home on his fanny?" Rayson said. "The town wanted him back to work, but in dispatch or a desk job. The town is in kind of a Catch-22. The town is duty-bound under the [settlement] agreement to pay him."
Through his attorney, Kilpatrick declined to comment.
By all accounts, Kilpatrick was an exceptional police officer with an impeccable record. He won high praise from supervisors during his first 10 years with the department. He was quickly promoted to K-9 officer, served on the SWAT team and also worked undercover as a narcotics detective.
Currier says the department's top brass targeted Kilpatrick after a rift developed in 2003 between him and Police Chief John George, who has since retired and could not be reached for comment.
According to court records, George placed Kilpatrick on paid leave in October 2003 over complaints about "actions you have taken toward your fellow officers" and launched an internal investigation into whether he violated a direct order to stay away from members of the department's Special Investigation Unit. The case ended with a finding that he violated lawful orders.
While still on paid leave, Kilpatrick became the subject of another internal investigation, into an alleged DUI. A jury found him not guilty in September 2004 but, after an internal affairs investigation into the incident, the chief fired Kilpatrick the following February for violating department policy.
A year later, an arbitrator ruled Davie was wrong to terminate Kilpatrick and reduced his discipline to a 10-day suspension. The arbitrator awarded back pay and restored Kilpatrick's benefits and seniority.
Still, the town wouldn't let him go back to work. As court records show, Kilpatrick had already been found fit for duty in two separate psychological exams, but officials insisted he had to pass another one, given by an expert picked by the city. Meanwhile, he remained on paid leave.
This time, the psychologist found Kilpatrick "permanently unfit for duty." Based on that, the department fired him again in January 2008.
Kilpatrick filed a federal lawsuit in May 2008, arguing that Davie had violated his federal rights. The town settled in August 2009, agreeing to reinstate him and pay him $300,000 in back pay and attorneys' fees.
But to this day, he remains on paid leave, not allowed to work. Davie is still negotiating the terms of his employment, the town attorney said.
Rayson said Police Chief Patrick Lynn has resisted putting Kilpatrick back to work because Lynn "believes there are ambiguities in the settlement agreement and he wants clarification. But if we go back to court for clarification, it will cost the town more money. I say enough with going back and bothering the judge. There is no reason why we shouldn't be able to get him back to work."
In the meantime, Kilpatrick has continued to collect yearly raises and benefits negotiated by the police union over the past seven years.
Kilpatrick has agreed to retire in February 2014, when he is eligible to receive his full pension.
"He's more than happy to go back to work or take the retirement," his attorney said. "He doesn't care."
Pregnant Inmate Wants Maternity Leave
Tiffani Calise, 21, of Briarwood, was taken into custody on Tuesday by Summit County sheriff's deputies and charged with felony child endangering after a child she was baby-sitting was found to have suffered from bleeding on the skull. (August 11, 2010)
KTLA News 1:48 p.m. PST, February 16, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
CHESTER TOWNSHIP The 21-year-old mother of a baby seen duct-taped in a photo posted on the Internet has been charged with in connection with the bizarre photo.
Caira Ferguson, of the 1200 block of Elson Road in the Toby Farms section of the township, has been charged with recklessly endangering and corruption of a minor, Nether Providence police said.
She was charged after being questioned Wednesday afternoon by Nether Providence Township police.
Ferguson told investigators in a statement that the incident was not a joke, as some theorized, but that she did not know why she bound the child's hands and legs, as well as placing a gag over her mouth.
The investigation was taken over by Nether Providence police because that is where the incident allegedly took place last summer.
Ferguson was first taken into custody by Chester Township police on outstanding warrants not connected to the photo.
Ferguson was arraigned via video by Magisterial District Judge C. Walter McCray on one count of false imprisonment, one count of unlawful restraint, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.
She was remanded to Delaware County Prison without bail.
McCray declined to set bail in the case, something usually reserved for homicide charges.
It is believed that county child welfare officials were at the home with Chester Township police Wednesday afternoon.
The status of the child is not known. The Delaware County Office of Children and Youth Services issued a statement indicating they were cooperating with Chester Township Police in their investigation, but that the state's juvenile law prohibits them from commenting on specific cases.
"It is the mission of Delaware County Children and Youth Services to provide for the safety and protection of children," the statement reads. "It is the agencys responsibility to carry out the Child Protective Services Act under the auspices of the court. The court is utilized to ensure the safest remedy for each child and CYS works under the court to ensure that no childs protection is compromised."
The photograph of a young child clad only in a diaper and bound to a chair by long strips of duct tape wrapped tautly around her wrists and ankles, with a smaller piece taped across her mouth, is clearly disturbing, Police Chief Ken Coalson said Tuesday.
Since police became aware of the photograph three days ago, Coalson said an investigation has been ongoing to determine possible child abuse, and if so, who might face criminal charges.
Our concern is who did it, was the mother (allegedly) involved and where did it occur, the chief said.
A woman in the photo appears to be posing behind the bound child, her hands clutching the childs arms and her head resting on the childs shoulder.
According to Coalson, she is the 21-year-old mother of the child, a 2-year-old girl. They reside in the Toby Farms section of the township.
Police believe the duct-taping incident occurred during the summer. As such, any visible injury the child might have suffered when the tape was removed would have healed.
We have had contact with the child, Coalson said.
Coalson said investigators became aware of the photograph when the mother arrived at the station to report an identity theft.
Its disturbing to look at, he said.
He indicated that the woman told the officers she was not responsible for posting the photograph on a blog known as MediaTakeOut.com.
She told us that it is her in the photograph, but that she did not post it, Coalson said. She said someone else stole her identity and posted it.
According to Coalson, the image received 337,000 hits before it was removed from the site.
Coalson said officers are investigating both the photograph and possible identity theft.
He also said a report was provided to Delaware County Children and Youth Services.
LINK TO PHOTOS OF MOTHER:
TSA agent Michael Arato admits to stealing from passengers during security checks, taking bribesPhilip Caulfield
Tuesday, February 15th 2011, 12:43 PM
Richards/GettyMichael Arato, a TSA agent at Newark airport, pleaded guilty to stealing from passengers
and accepting kickbacks from a subordinate who did the same.
Prosecutors said Michael Arato and the subordinate, who was not named, targeted foreigners leaving the U.S. and stole money and valuables from their bags during secondary searches.
A Transportation Security Administration officer pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars in cash and other valuables from unsuspecting travelers, mostly non-English speakers, during security screenings at Newark airport.
Michael Arato, 41, also admitted on Monday to taking kickbacks from a subordinate officer, who stole between $10,000 and $30,000 over the course of a year while Arato agreed to look the other way.
The crooked TSA supervisor was busted last fall after the subordinate, who was not named, worked with authorities to videotape him taking his cut during a three-week period, from Sept. 13 to Oct. 5, authorities said.
Arato also admitted stealing from passengers at his own checkpoint at Newark airport's Terminal B.
Prosecutors said the two agents often targeted foreigners and subjected them to additional screening, during which time they would pocket cash found in their carry-on bags.
According to prosecutor Paul Fishman, the supervisor pocketed between $400 and $700 from passengers on a given shift. He also accepted about $3,100 in bribes during the three-week period he was being observed.
The two agents often stashed stolen cash in the drawers of x-ray machines at the checkpoints or hid it the lost and found before retrieving it later, prosecutors said.
Arato was caught on tape explaining his action by saying that the travelers were leaving the country with "our money," ABC reported.
In one video recording, Arato was seen taking his cut and then giving "the middle finger to the office security camera," according to the complaint.
"Arato literally made a game of stealing hundreds of dollars a day from individuals standing in the security lane," Fishman said in a statement after Arato was busted. "That he targeted them based on their inability to speak English is especially offensive."
According to the original complaint, authorities became suspicious after receiving several complaints from passengers on Air India's daily nonstop flight to India that money and valuables from their carry-on bags had gone missing after TSA employees at Arato's checkpoint had searched them by hand.
The victims were mostly women of Indian decent who did not speak English, the complaint said.
Arato faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced on May 24.
With News Wire Services
Girl, 13, crashes into police car after fight with mom
A 13-year-old squabbling with her mother commandeered the family car and crashed it into a police car before being taken into custody last night on the Eastside.
Indianapolis Metropolitan police said they were called to a home in the 2400 block of Morningstar Drive to break up a disturbance between a mother and daughter. Before they arrived a second call came over the police radio, saying the daughter was driving her mom's Toyota Corolla back and forth along on Morningstar.
When Officer Jerry Torres arrived, the girl backed into Torre's squad car, according to an IMPD report.
Other police cars pinned the Toyota in and Torres broke the driver's side window to apprehend the girl.
Attacking Palin: Who's doing it and why
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Photo by ROBYN BECK /AFP/Getty Images
After months of radio silence about the prospect of Sarah Palin running for president in 2012, a few of her potential rivals have begun to delicately jab at her, previewing what would almost certainly be a far more aggressive attack if she did decide to enter the race.
Last week, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by postulating in an online radio interview that Palin might be skipping the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) because "she has some demands on her time, and a lot of them have financial benefit attached to them." He added that Palin also has considerable responsibilities as a mother of five children. started a controversy
While Santorum insisted that he was only saying Palin was busy and did not in any way mean to slight her, the former Alaska governor clearly took umbrage.
Palin said she would not call Santorum the "knuckle-dragging Neanderthal", adding "I'll let his wife call him that instead." Zing!
Then came South Dakota Sen. John Thune's speech at CPAC in which he uttered the line: "The closest I've come to being on a reality TV show is C-SPAN's live coverage of the Senate floor."
While he never mentioned Palin's name, the audience "oohed" as soon as Thune mentioned a reality TV show -- a clear indication that they knew exactly who and what he was talking about.
For both Santorum and Thune, going after Palin -- whether intentionally, unintentionally or a somewhere in between -- is a smart political strategy.
It's the political equivalent of punching up; anytime a lesser known candidate takes a swing at a better known candidate -- and that better known candidate responds -- it's a victory for the little guy.
It's why long-shot challengers always call for debate against incumbents -- and why incumbents almost never agree to them.
But, Palin's demonstrated willingness to engage almost anyone -- literally -- who speaks ill of her virtually ensures that other lesser known candidates looking to make a name for themselves in the 2012 field will follow the Santorum/Thune route in the very near future.
It's a win-win situation for second and third tier candidates. Anything Palin-related draws a scrum of reporters (although, notably, not Dana Milbank) and those reporters inevitably write stories with a "Santorum vs Palin" or "Thune vs Palin" narrative -- a great dynamic for longer-shot candidates.
The real question moving forward is whether -- and how -- bigger name candidates like former Govs. Mitt Romney (Mass.) and Mike Huckabee (Ark.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) follow the lead of Santorum and Thune.
To date, each of those candidates have tread very carefully around Palin.
Romney recently praised her as "an extraordinarily powerful and effective voice in our party".
Gingrich called her a "formidable person in her own right" although cautioning Palin to "slow down" when it comes to her public pronouncements.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Palin was "a heck of a lot smarter than she gets credit for."
The closest any of the major candidates has come to going negative on Palin is when Pawlenty said on "Good Morning America" that "it wouldn't have been my style" to put crosshairs on a 2010 election map as Palin's Sarah PAC did. (Some Democrats blamed Palin's "crosshairs map" for playing a role in the attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.) But, that's a pretty tame line of attack -- if it can even be considered a line of attack at all.
So, why haven't we seen more criticism of Palin from her bigger-name rivals?
One reason may be that they have made a calculation that it makes little sense to go after Palin -- and risk alienating her loyal supporters -- before she is even in the race.
The nightmare scenario for top-tier candidates is that they attack Palin, the attack turns her voters against them and then she doesn't run. The result? They look petty and have angered an element of the party they will need to win the nomination.
Rather than risk it, the top-tier candidates appear to be playing as nice as possible with Palin for as long as possible.
Of course, if she gets in the race, that calculation could well change. While people like Romney, Barbour and Daniels would likely be content to let people like Santorum go on a political kamikaze mission against Palin, it's hard to imagine that all of them could avoid engaging with her during the primary process.
Another reason for the lack of direct engagement at the moment could be that Palin is not regarded by some of these people as a major threat for the nomination even if she did run.
As Politico's Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin noted in a smart story Monday, Palin is not performing as a frontrunner would be expected to in early primary and caucus states -- suggesting she may not be nearly as formidable as she is made out to be.
Regardless of whether or not she runs, however, Palin will have an influence on the nomination fight by dint of her fame and the subsequent throw weight of her pronouncements via Facebook and Twitter.
Most of the top-tier candidates are eyeing her warily at the moment, waiting to see what she's up to before deciding the best way to approach her.
In the meantime, look for lesser known candidates to try and make their name by going at Palin. Will she engage them? Or ignore them?
Teen may get probation in case of 9-year-old sickened by vodka
The Denver Post
Posted: 02/16/2011 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 02/16/2011 01:16:21 AM MST
Tyrale Haselrig- Graham
A teenager accused of giving a 9-year-old vodka shots until the boy had to be taken to a hospital could get probation as part of an ongoing deal with the Denver district attorney's office.
Tyrale Haselrig-Graham, 18, and a buddy were drinking at the victim's home on New Year's Eve and got the child dangerously drunk while his mother was away, authorities say.
Haselrig-Graham originally faced charges of child abuse causing serious bodily injury and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Class 3 and Class 4 felonies, respectively. The second teen, Skyler Dematteo, also 18, still faces those charges.
But at a Tuesday court appearance, Haselrig-Graham's public defender noted that under the deal, he could instead
Skyler Dematteo face a charge of negligent child abuse, which could get him probation.
Haselrig-Graham's mother and sister and two of his high school teachers sat nearby in support of the 18-year-old, who remains in custody.
The incident happened at the apartment of Dematteo's neighbor, where three children, including the victim, lived, according to Dematteo's mother.
Naomi Dematteo didn't know why her son was there that night, but she said he didn't participate in giving alcohol to the child.
Dematteo, father of a 2-year-old, made his high school's honor roll last year and was on track to graduate this year until the arrest, she said.
He's still awaiting a publicly funded lawyer for a preliminary hearing this month.
"It's a shame," Naomi Dematteo said. "I don't know who was supposed to be watching those kids. I just don't think he deserves all this."
Read more: Teen may get probation in case of 9-year-old sickened by vodka - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17398025#ixzz1E7Evw6am
Woman, 61, gives birth to own grandchild
Her daughter had tried for years to have a baby
Sara Connell, left, holds her new baby Finnean Lee Connell, on Thursday at Prentice Womens Hospital in Chicago. Saras
Deborah L. Shelton
11:22 p.m. CST
February 11, 2011
Andrew Breitbart website posts cartoon of fat First Lady mocking her anti-obesity campaign
Originally Published:Tuesday, February 15th 2011, 11:54 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 15th 2011, 1:25 PM
The cartoon depicting a plump First Lady was published over the weekend.
Andrew Breitbart, at it again?
The conservative blogger who is at the center of a lawsuit over a video his site posted depicting a government official as racist now has a cartoon on his Big Government site portraying First Lady Michelle Obama as a plump, hamburger-scarfing glutton.
In the cartoon, posted over the weekend, the First Lady is sitting at a dinner table with President Obama.
"I've stepped up my efforts to control America's eating habits by telling restaurants to lower portion sizes and fat content," a double-chinned Michelle Obama says, referring to her anti-obesity campaign, which celebrated its one-year anniversary last week.
The President, pictured with huge ears and sitting next to her in front of a tiny plate of vegetables, responds, "Michelle, I want to get reelected. What you're doing is only going to annoy a lot of people."
The First Lady responds, "Shut up and pass the bacon!"
Breitbart told the Daily News that he "can't speak to anything that's going on right now" because he's been traveling and has been ill. He referred all questions to Big Government Editor Michael Flynn.
Shirley Sherrod, the former Department of Agriculture employee who was forced to call it quits last year, filed a lawsuit against Breitbart on Friday. She alleges the blogger posted a misleading video that damaged her reputation.
"Whether or not one finds the cartoon funny is certainly subject to debate," Flynn wrote in an email. "But I can't really see how this is controversial to any but those with the frailest disposition."
"Michelle Obama's work on nutrition issues has gone beyond the normal First Lady advocacy into the realm of shaping national policy, so, on this issue, I think she is fair game for criticism," Flynn added.
"If there's a 'joke' in there, I'm missing it," Simon Maloy of Media Matters wrote. "This is the sort of stuff most of us left at the grade school playground."
The cartoonists James Hudnall and Batton Lash, who collaborate on a political cartoon every week for BigGovernment.com, defended their work.
"We find the 'do as I say, not as I do' approach of the Obamas hypocritical and ripe for ridicule. The First Lady seeks to enforce healthy eating on the nation, while indulging on snacks in public appearances," said Lash, pointing to the recent White House Superbowl menu, which included deep-dish pizza and buffalo wings.
"The true measure of success of any political cartoon is how it effects the other side in the argument," Hudnall added. "Apparently, this one was a home run."
$1M lottery ticket may go unclaimed in NC
The Associated Press
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011
STALLINGS, N.C. Who wants to be a millionaire? Apparently not the owner of a winning North Carolina Lottery ticket.
The Charlotte Observer reports that a $1 million ticket was sold in Stallings, southeast of Charlotte, in August. But no one has claimed the prize.
If the winner doesn't show up at lottery headquarters in Raleigh by 5 p.m. Wednesday, the ticket will expire. Half the money will go to the lottery's education fund and the rest will go to Medicaid.
Cashier Jessica Massey says customers at the convenience store where the ticket was sold have been constantly asking about it. But no one has produced the winning numbers.
It would be the state lottery's first unclaimed million-dollar winner.
McDonald's 'McWeddings' offered for couples who want affordable wedding at fast food restaurantReuters
Monday, February 14th 2011, 2:26 PM
Jones/GettyKelvin Kwong and Ashley Tse pose for a photo as they announce their engagement before guests during a Valentines day engagement party at a McDonald's fast food restaurant in Hong Kong on February 14, 2010.
In the buzzing financial hub known for its fast living, young Hong Kong couples can now grab love on the run at the city's McDonald's outlets, which are offering a burgeoning new sideline: "McWeddings."
On Valentine's Day at a downtown McDonald's close to the financial district, the fast food joint was decked out with pink balloons, a "cake" stacked from apple pies, as well as a pair of tiny souvenir crystal M rings, for a surprise engagement bash thrown by Kelvin, a young model, for his girlfriend, Ashley.
The party is the first formal wedding event since the service was launched in January.
McDonald's says the concept isn't tacky and fills a niche in Hong Kong, where its restaurants are popular dating venues and the prices for more typical weddings run high.
"They date here, they grew their love here, so when they have this important day they want to come over here," said Shirley Chang, the managing director of Hong Kong's McDonald's outlets.
The McDonald's "Warm and sweet wedding package," at HK$9999 ($1282) a pop, includes wedding gifts, pink invitation cards emblazoned with golden arches, decor featuring the likes of Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar, and classic golden arches fare worth up to $385.
Additional items will cost extra, including a "white balloon" gown rental ($165), balloon corsage ($11), balloon wedding cake ($88), and a large pink McDonalds backdrop ($321).
"You can see the world changing, especially the young generation," Chang told Reuters.
"They're looking for out-of the-box thinking and ideas."
With two wedding parties confirmed for this year and around 70 other couples in talks, the American fast food giant is hoping this sideline will take off at a time of economic uncertainty, particularly with traditional Chinese weddings and banquets often imposing a huge financial burden on young couples.
"I think it's the best value for money," laughed Chang. "Definitely."
This may be the first spark of revolution in Iran
DECKER: Obama's fake Christianity?
Liberals argue whether the president is an atheist
Brett M. Decker-The Washington Times8:34 p.m., Saturday, February 12, 2011
* FILE ** President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at Northern Michigan University, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, in Marquette, Mich. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
President Obama's coddling of Islam has many Americans questioning his national-security judgment, if not his intentions. In his administrations muddled response to the crisis in Egypt, one clear message came from all the president's men: A new government in Cairo has to include a whole host of important nonsecular actors, as stated by White House spokesman Robert L. Gibbs. The hitch is that in the Middle East, nonsecular means radical Islamist, like the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, in the middle of this global clash of civilizations, Mr. Obama's own religious disposition is being questioned and not from the right, but the left.
On his HBO show Real Time on Friday, host Bill Maher said of Mr. Obama, I think he's a centrist the way hes a Christian not really. His mother was a secular humanist and I think he is. When Princeton University professor Cornel West challenged Mr. Maher's point about Mr. Obama's religion, saying, He changed his mind on the God question, brother Bill, the comic retorted, It's like when he says I struggle with gay marriage you don't struggle with gay marriage, you're fine with gay marriage. Another guest who insisted Mr. Obama has always been pretty centrist helpfully reminded that Mr. Obama did go to church before he was a candidate for the presidency. That church, of course, was presided over by the racist, anti-American, hate-spewing Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Bill Maher can be a funny guy. His website flashes the crack, It doesn't make me un-American to say I'd rather live in Paris than in places where cheese only comes in individually wrapped slices. Aside from the fact that bashing France is a national pasttime and a pretty reliable measure of patriotism, a man who prefers unpasteurized fromage cant be all bad. That said, his humor has a very tangible dark side, especially when it comes to faith. In the past, Mr. Maher has called Christianity the ultimate hustle and ridiculed the fight of good versus evil as a shakedown: If God gets rid of the devil and he could, hes all powerful well, then there's no fear. There's no reason to come to church. There's no reason to pass the plate.
Liberals hate it when anybody throws their own gaffes back in their faces. Media Matters can chuck bricks at us all they want for taking purported cheap shots at the president. This debate over Mr. Obamas religion is happening among his most ardent supporters, just like the birther flames being fanned by MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Hawaii's Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Mr. Obama's critics just sit back and laugh while Democrats do their dirty work for them. With friends like Mr. Maher, Mr. Obama doesn't need enemies.
Why is Glenn Beck freaking out over Egypt and a caliphate?
Fox News commentator Glenn Beck finds in Egypt's democratic revolution a conspiracy involving left and right. Other conservatives are distancing themselves from Beck's delusional ravings.
February 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm EST
Caliph: A successor of Muhammad as temporal and spiritual head of Islam.
Caliphate: What Glenn Beck warns could take over much of the western world.
Its not a conspiracy, Glenn Beck says, but just a group of like-minded organizations and individuals from the Muslim Brotherhood to the AFL-CIO (with assorted other fellow travelers in a "red-green alliance") working together to overthrow and overturn stability. And he has the charts, graphs, and a map to prove it.
If such protests become "contagious," he warns, they will "sweep the Middle East" then "begin to destabilize Europe and the rest of the world."
Becks latest theory about where the freedom revolution in Egypt is headed may resonate with his hard-core followers. But it has some conservatives wondering if hes gone off the deep end.
William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a regular Fox News commentator, welcomes the debate among conservatives over the political revolution in Egypt.
Its a sign of health that a political and intellectual movement does not respond to a complicated set of developments with one voice, he wrote recently.
But hysteria is not a sign of health, he continued. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. Hes marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.
In the conservative National Review, editor Rich Lowry called Kristols comments a well-deserved shot at Glenn Becks latest wild theorizing.
On PBSs Newshour Friday night, New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks contrasted Becks delusional ravings about the caliphate coming back with the conservative establishment, which saw [the end of the Mubarak regime in Egypt] as a fulfillment of Ronald Reagan's democracy dream.
For the first time, you began to see a lot of really serious conservatives taking on Beck and people like that, and saying, you know, your theories are just wacky, Brooks said.
Beck, whose signature image is being outraged at the left (tinged with conspiracy theories), apparently has decided to push his brand ever farther. Do his ratings have anything to do with that?
From January 2010 to last month, the number of his viewers dropped 39 percent the steepest decline of any cable news show.
It's entirely possible viewers are simply tiring of the chalkboard and the high rhetoric, which has been notably higher of late, Business Insider reported earlier this month. And needless to say Beck is not the phenom he was a year ago, merely by dint of the country becoming more familiar with him.
Meanwhile, some 300 advertisers have asked not to be on his show a trend that began when Beck called President Obama a racist.
As is typically his style, Beck doesnt address the arguments of his opponents but goes after them personally.
"People like Bill Kristol ... I don't think they stand for anything anymore," says Beck. "All they stand for is power. They'll do anything to keep their little fiefdom together, and they'll do anything to keep the Republican power entrenched."
And in his latest monologue about the new world order, Beck had this to say about his critics: You want to call me crazy? Go to hell. Call me crazy all you want."
All of this has become great fun for others in the commentariat.
Of course, the conspiracy goes deeper than Beck has yet revealed, writes Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic. I'm hoping that, in coming days, if the Freemasons, working in concert with Hezbollah and the Washington Redskins, don't succeed in suppressing the truth, that Beck will reveal the identities of the most pernicious players in this grotesque campaign to subvert our way of life.
I can't reveal too much here, Goldberg writes. But I think it's fair to say that Beck will be paying a lot of attention in the coming weeks to the dastardly, pro-caliphate work of Joy Behar; the makers of Little Debbie snack cakes; the 1980s hair band Def Leppard; Omar Sharif; and the Automobile Association of America. And remember, you read it here first.
'I'm robbing you, sir': 'Polite' robber arrested
A man accused of robbing a Seattle convenience store at gunpoint last weekend might have earned points with its owner by being polite.
A man accused of robbing a Seattle convenience store at gunpoint last weekend might have earned points with its owner by being polite.
But saying "sir" probably won't impress prosecutors or federal authorities who say they have supervised him since he wrapped up a prison term for an earlier string of hold-ups.
The King County Sheriff's Office identified the suspect Tuesday as Gregory P. Hess, 65. He's a former Starbucks barista who has been on federal supervision since 2007, when he was released from prison after receiving a nearly six-year sentence for hitting five banks and a video store in the Seattle area.
His bail was set at $250,000. He is being held for investigation of robbery but has not been charged.
Hess was arrested after surveillance video of Saturday's robbery "went viral" and prompted several tips about the suspect's identity, said sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart.
The man in the video is seen telling White Center Shell station owner John Henry: "Could you do me a favor? Empty the till for me please and put it right here. . I'm robbing you, sir."
"Are you sure?" Henry replies.
"Yes, I'm sure," the man says.
"Why do you want to do that?"
"Because I need the money," the man answers. "I've got kids that need to be fed, sir. . I really am sorry to have to do this."
Henry offered the man $40, but the suspect declined it and took $300, promising to pay the money back later, if he could.
Hess worked for three years at a Starbucks in Seattle's Madison Park neighborhood before quitting in late 2002 because "he became dissatisfied with a change in direction the company had taken," according to documents filed in his federal case. Months later, he was robbing banks to pay for his rent and other expenses, including his "precious dogs."
The federal case, which includes a lengthy sentencing memorandum that delves into his unhappy childhood and adult life, makes no mention of Hess having children.
His method in the 2003 robberies earned him a mundane nickname from the FBI: the "Transaction Bandit." He sometimes asked a teller to make change for small bills, and once the drawer was open he demanded the money that was inside, showing the teller a pellet gun in his waistband.
He was arrested in those cases after former co-workers at the caf� saw his wanted photo in The Seattle Times and alerted authorities to his identity. He confessed soon after his arrest and was sentenced to 57 months in prison, plus $9,723 in restitution.
In asking for a light sentence, his lawyer cited a letter written by his sister, recounting their unhappy childhood at the hands of alcoholic parents.
The sister also said the two of them stole from grocery stores to feed themselves, his sister wrote. Hess eventually was sent to live with a foster family.
After serving his sentence, Hess enrolled in a culinary arts program at South Seattle Community College. Although he earned $800 to $1200 per month, he failed to pay restitution as ordered for nearly a year after his release, the court documents state.
The federal documents also note that he was convicted in 1967 of forging a check to pay his rent.
LINK TO PHOTO OF POLITE ROBBER:
The new 747-8 jumbo jet: Up close and inside
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
Unlike the Dreamliner that Boeing rolled out in 2007 but didn't get off the ground for two-and-a-half years, the new 747-8 jumbo jet unveiled in Everett on Sunday is not an empty shell.
"We're going to roll out an airplane that's darn near ready to fly," Boeing commercial airplanes chief Jim Albaugh said in an interview. "I think it'll fly within three or four weeks."
An advance tour inside the giant passenger plane, the 747-8 Intercontinental, revealed final preparations for flight testing.
The flight deck is ready for the pilots to take the controls. A little label above the pilot's steering yoke reads: "Boeing 001. Flight test."
In the cavernous passenger cabin, Boeing has installed racks of computer equipment and dozens of interconnected black barrels so that during the upcoming flight tests, the water that serves as ballast can be pumped around to simulate various loads.
On the outside, the plane looks dramatic because of what Albaugh called "that bigger bump on top."
This latest model of the iconic jumbo jet, whose first version flew in 1969, has an extended forward fuselage hump with a row of windows that stretches all the way back to the wings.
The rival Airbus A380 superjumbo airliner, with its full-length double-decker passenger cabin, has a regular, more nondescript fuselage shape. But the curve of the 747-8 upper fuselage hump will be distinctive even to people unfamiliar with airplane types.
Boeing's marketing mavens developed a brash new burnt-orange sunburst paint scheme unique to the plane in Sunday's ceremonial rollout.
"We wanted to gain the world's attention and to give the message that this is not your father's 747," said Steven Myers, a senior designer with Boeing's Seattle-based design partner Teague.
A swooping horizon line along the side of the jet separates a predominantly reddish orange lower fuselage from the pearl-white upper fuselage. Silvery gray highlights and gold stripes fade into the main blocks of color.
A nonmetallic mica in the clear topcoat will sparkle in sunlight.
Inside the hangar where the plane had just been painted, Myers said Boeing chose the reddish color scheme to appeal specifically to the Asian customers that are expected to be the major buyers of this jet.
The stylized figure 8 on the vertical tail fin represents the model number, but also conveys the Chinese "lucky number" representing prosperity and wealth.
The fading effect was done by hand and the paint job took 10 days, said Bill Dill, Boeing's paint operations leader.
The plane that rolled out Sunday � 250 feet long with a 224-foot wingspan � is a VIP jet for a private buyer, so it will never have a conventional airliner interior.
After flight tests are completed it will be refurbished and customized for the buyer.
Right now, the long passenger cabin is carpeted and has some stow bins and sidewalls in place.
But orange wiring snakes along the floor to the racks of electronic boxes in the center. And the interior space is otherwise largely empty except for the squat, load-shifting water barrels fore and aft, connected by tubes.
At the back of the cabin, a device resembling a giant hamster wheel is installed, about four feet in diameter. During test flights this wheel reels in and out from the tip of the vertical tail a long tubular line attached to a cone-shaped sensor that takes air pressure readings well away from the fuselage.
Admiring the paint scheme his team had completed, Dill said of the Sunday rollout that "the queen is ready for the ball."
Even better, the hardware inside suggests the queen is also nearly ready for her working flight tests.
LINK TO PHOTO GALLERY:
LINK TO VIDEO:
Super-small antennas, better cell-phone service
Daily News Staff and Wire Services
02/11/2011 08:19:35 PM
Updated: 02/11/2011 09:00:04 PM
Wim Sweldens, the president Alcatel-Lucent's wireless division is seen holding a lightRadio cube, a small cell-phone antenna that can be deployed on lamp posts, buildings, and other places that can't accommodate a full-sized antenna. The cube integrates much of the regular workings of a conventional cell phone base station, seen behind Sweldens. (AP Photo/Alcatel-Lucent) As cell phones have spread, so have large cell towers - those unsightly stalks of steel topped by transmitters and other electronics that sprouted across the country over the last decade.
Now the wireless industry is planning a future without them, or at least without many more of them. Instead, it's looking at much smaller antennas, some tiny enough to hold in a hand. These could be placed on lampposts, utility poles and buildings - virtually anywhere with electrical and network connections.
If the technology overcomes some hurdles, it could upend the wireless industry and offer seamless service, with fewer dead spots and faster data speeds.
Some big names in the wireless world are set to demonstrate "small cell" technologies at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest cell phone trade show, which starts Monday in Barcelona, Spain.
"We see more and more towers that become bigger and bigger, with more and bigger antennas that come to obstruct our view and clutter our landscape and are simply ugly," said Wim Sweldens, president of the wireless division of Alcatel-Lucent, the French-U.S. maker of telecommunications equipment.
"What we have realized is that we, as one of the major mobile equipment vendors, are partially if not mostly to blame for this."
Alcatel-Lucent will be at the show to demonstrate its "lightRadio cube," a cellular antenna about the size and shape of a Rubik's cube, vastly smaller than the ironing-board-sized
The cube was developed at the famous Bell Labs in New Jersey, birthplace of many other inventions when it was AT&T's research center.
In Alcatel-Lucent's vision, these little cubes could soon begin replacing conventional cell towers. Single cubes or clusters of them could be placed indoors or out and be easily hidden from view. All they need is electrical power and an optical fiber connecting them to the phone company's network.
The cube, Sweldens said, can make the notion of a conventional cell tower "go away." Alcatel-Lucent will start trials of the cube with carriers in September. The company hopes to make it commercially available next year.
That would be welcome news in neighborhoods across the country, as the larger cell towers have sparked zoning fights from residents who deride them as eyesores and potential health hazards.
In the San Fernando Valley, for example, residents have been fighting cell tower proposals for years. In the past year they have met with some success defeating several proposals from T-Mobile to expand its network coverage.
In Northridge, residents have so far been able to convince city officials to block a proposed T-Mobile tower on top of a commercial structure at Saticoy Street and Louise Avenue, complaining it would be an eyesore, destroy property values and the radiation would pose a health threat.
Similarly in Sherman Oaks, residents last year convinced the South Valley Area Planning Commission to shoot down a separate proposal from T-Mobile to build a 49-foot-high tower on top of a three-story commercial building on Burbank Boulevard.
But for cell phone companies, the benefits of dividing their networks into smaller "cells," each one served by something like the cube antenna, go far beyond esthetics. Smaller cells mean vastly higher capacity for calls and data traffic.
Instead of having all phones within a mile or two connect to the same cell tower, the traffic could be divided between several smaller cells, so there's less competition for the cell tower's attention.
"If it is what they claim, lightRadio could be a highly disruptive force within the wireless industry," said Dan Hays, who focuses on telecommunications at consulting firm PRTM.
Rasmus Hellberg, director of technical marketing at wireless technology developer Qualcomm Inc., said smaller cells can boost a network's capacity tenfold, far more than can be achieved by other upgrades to wireless technology that are also in the works.
EDITORIAL: Obamacare's casualties: 800,000 jobs
Unemployment will rise if health care takeover isn't stopped
The Washington Times7:35 p.m., Friday, February 11, 2011
** FILE ** Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office. (AP Photo)
Repeal of Obamacare ought to be a priority not only on constitutional grounds, but also as a move essential to pulling our economy out of its malaise. The head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) let slip the reason why in testimony Thursday before the House Budget Committee. Over the course of a decade, the tax hikes and increased costs of government's health care takeover would take a big toll on the job market. If the reduction in the labor used was workers working the average number of hours in the economy and earning the average wage, there would be a reduction of 800,000 workers, CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf predicted.
That estimate only holds true if the most favorable scenarios play out. The actual reduction in employment could be far worse if the economy continues to struggle as it has done so far under President Obama's statist policies. Nobody knows better than Mr. Obama's second-in-command that things don't always work out as well as expected.
In a March video interview with Yahoo! Finance, Vice President Joe Biden answered a second grader's question about the future with a prediction of massive job growth within six months. By the time you go back to school in September, honey, you're going to be seeing 200,000 jobs created, he promised. Recovery summer, of course, turned out to be a bust. By the time young Davida hit the books last year, 280,000 jobs were lost - not gained.
It's no accident. This administration has turned America into a disproving ground for the failed economic theories of John Maynard Keynes, who taught that government investment was the key to growth. According to our Keynesian president, the endless supply of government money was supposed to serve as the fuel for productivity during the slump.
This ideology rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of how markets function in the real world. Every dollar that Mr. Obama spent with his Recovery Act was pilfered from the pockets of families and entrepreneurs across the country. Many of these businesses are expert at preparing for tomorrow. They see the looming debt and realize they have a target on their backs painted by the class warriors running the country. As a result, they didn't hire and didn't grow. The economy has ground to a near halt as a result.
After more than a trillion dollars spent in so-called stimulus funds, the best the Obama administration can do is lamely assert that things would have been much worse had the money not been spent. In fact, they see the current economic sputtering as evidence that a lot more taxpayer funds need to be blown on phony stimulation.
In many respects, this outcome fits neatly into Mr. Obama's anti-industrial policy that seeks to roll back the advances and conveniences of the modern era, replacing them with relics of the past. He wants more trains and bicycles, not cars and airplanes. He prefers windmills to modern, clean-energy nuclear plants. His primary goal has been to cut off cheap sources of energy, which are the lifeblood of any industrial society that seeks to create wealth.
Mr. Obama obviously isn't interested in wealth creation; he wants to be the guy who redistributes it. This, too, is the central concept behind Obamacare. It will take the modern marvel of American medicine and hand it to bureaucrats to decide how it might be distributed. That's why Obamacare must be defeated.
Miller/GettyRadio talk show host and conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh salutes from atop the ratings.
The trade magazine Talkers has published its annual "Heavy Hundred" list of the top talk-radio hosts, and it shouldn't shock anyone that Rush Limbaugh (heard locally on WABC) is No. 1.
No big surprises after that, either. Sean Hannity (WABC) is No. 2, Glenn Beck No. 3, Michael Savage (WOR) No. 4 and Laura Ingraham No. 5.
Mark Levin of WABC continues his climb, coming in at No. 7, with progressive talkers Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz (both on WWRL) No. 8 and No. 9.
Howard Stern of Sirius is No. 12, Mike Gallagher (WOR) No. 13, Lou Dobbs (WOR) No. 17, George Noory (WOR) No. 21, Don Imus (WABC) No. 26 and Michael Smerconish (WOR) No. 27.
Dr. Joy Browne (WOR) is No. 28, Boomer and Carton (WFAN) No. 34, Mike Francesa (WFAN) No. 38 and Randi Rhodes (WWRL) No. 41.
Bev Smith (WWRL) is No. 44, Steve Malzberg (WOR) No. 46, Mike & Mike (WEPN) No. 49, Jim Gearhart (WKXW) No. 53, Opie and Anthony (XM) No. 71, Doug McIntire (WABC) No. 74, Terry Gross (WNYC) No. 76, Curtis Sliwa (WNYM) No. 82 and Mark Riley (WWRL) No. 97.
RADIO SHOWS SOME LOVE: It's not that hard to find love songs on the radio any old time, but several stations are planning special Valentine's Day programming.
WAXQ (104.3 FM) will let listeners pick one love song to be played on the air every hour - even if, program director Eric Wellman notes, that song is something like "Love Stinks."
On WFUV (90.7 FM), Pete Fornatale will celebrate Valentine's Day today, 4-8 p.m., and the hosts of "Ceol na nGael" will do same with Irish love songs tomorrow, noon-4 p.m.
David Kenney of WBAI (99.5 FM) does an extended show of favorites from the Great American Songbook tomorrow night, 8-11.
WCBS-FM (101.1) will feature love songs in its Hall of Fame Monday night.
Sirius XM satellite is running a "Valentine's Radio" channel through midnight Monday. It's on Sirius 3 and XM 23 and features include Dionne Warwick unveiling her "Ultimate Love Playlist."
AROUND THE DIAL: If rumors were eviction notices, WRXP (101.9 FM) would be only a distant memory today. But the alternative rock station is hanging in. It celebrates its third anniversary next month with a pair of concerts: Matt and Kim on March 20 at the Stone Pony and Guster on March 21 at Irving Plaza. . . . Dan Romanello's "Group Harmony Review," midnight Saturdays on WFUV, presents its annual "Ladies of R&B" show tonight as part of its Black History Month celebration. The show features 1950s-style R&B vocal group harmony.
Diet Pepsi 'skinny' can stirs up big controversy
AP Food Industry Writer
Posted: 02/11/2011 01:13:25 PM MST
Updated: 02/11/2011 04:35:05 PM MST
|In this product image provided by PepsiCo Inc., a new Diet Pepsi Skinny Can is shown. (AP Photo/PepsiCo Inc.)|
Diet Pepsi has introduced a new "skinny" can for Fashion Week, but some critics are giving it a big, fat "no."
The can is a "taller, sassier" version of the traditional can that the company says was made in "celebration of beautiful, confident women." Some say Pepsi's approach only reinforces dangerous stereotypes about women and body image.
PepsiCo Inc. presented the new can at New York's Fashion Week, which began Thursday. It will be available to consumers nationwide in March.
The company, a Fashion Week sponsor, is hosting a series of events to launch the new can, include collaborations with popular designers such as Charlotte Ronson and Betsey Johnson.
"Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today's most stylish looks, and we're excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world," Jill Beraud, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo said in a statement.
Critics say it is nothing to celebrate.
Brand experts praised the new design but say the company may be a bit off on its sales pitch that skinny is better. The National Eating Disorders Association said it takes offense to the can and said the company's comments are both "thoughtless and irresponsible."
Libby Copeland summed up many of the criticisms in an article for Slate.
"Same old story - aspirational, looks-oriented advertising with a thin layer of faux-empowerment on top," Copeland wrote. "If you're confident on the inside, you'll be skinny on the outside, or something. Huh?"
Pepsi said that can and its campaign are focused on design.
"We are sensitive to this interpretation, and that is definitely not our intent," the company said in an e-mailed statement. "We intend to highlight the innovative look for Diet Pepsi and provide our fans with an "inside look" at events that celebrate innovation and style."
The company will take its campaign one step further on Feb. 28 when it launches a print advertisement for the new can featuring the buxom actress Sofia Vergara.
Pepsi says it will continue to sell its traditional-sized can.
Egypt's Mubarak steps down as president
CAIRO � Egypt's Hosni Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military on Friday, bowing down after a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands. "The people ousted the president," chanted a crowd of tens of thousands outside his presidential palace in Cairo.
Several hundred thousand protesters massed in Cairo's central Tahrir Square exploded into joy, waving Egyptian flags, and car horns and celebratory shots in the air were heard around the city of 18 million in joy after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV just after nightfall.
Mubarak had sought to cling to power, handing some of his authorities to Suleiman while keeping his title. But an explosion of protests Friday rejecting the move appeared to have pushed the military into forcing him out completely. Hundreds of thousands marched throughout the day in cities across the country as soliders stood by, besieging his palace in Cairo and Alexandria and the state TV building.
"In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic," a grim-looking Suleiman said. "He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor."
Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, whose young suporters were among the organizers of the protest movement, told The Associated Press, "This is the greatest day of my life."
"The country has been liberated after decades of repression," he said adding that he expects a "beautiful" transition of power.
Sloan steps down as Jazz coach
AP Sports Writer
February 11, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Like the impressive mountains that dominate Salt Lake City's skyline, Jerry Sloan was a fixture in the Utah landscape.
Now, for the first time since 1988three years before Michael Jordan won the first of his six NBA titlesthe Jazz will have a new head coach on their bench.
Hes been there like this rock and all of a sudden the rock is gone, Boston coach Doc Rivers said of the 68-year-old Sloan. It's like your franchise moved or something. I dont know. It's just strange.
Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz are 31-23 this season.
(AP Photo/Colin E Braley, File)
While Sloan expected to wake up refreshed knowing he was done game-planning and tussling with fiery superstars such as Deron Williams(notes), the rest of the basketball world was awakening to a new era.
Man it's gonna be crazy and weird seeing anyone besides Jerry Sloan walking the sidelines for the Utah Jazz! Miami Heat star LeBron James(notes) tweeted. Jerry Sloan is the Utah Jazz. Wow.
James wasnt exaggerating.
Since Sloan took over in Utah for Frank Layden, there have been 245 coaching changes leaguewide13 alone by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Five current NBA teams (Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota) did not even exist when Sloan was hired by the Jazz.
As a colleague, we'll miss him, said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who along with Sloan and Pat Riley were the only coaches in NBA history to have 15-plus consecutive seasons with a winning record.
Sloan stepped down Thursday with 1,127 wins as Jazz coach and 1,221 overall (including his short stint in Chicago). The career total is the third-most in NBA history.
His decision came after an emotional loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night, a night that saw his former team and former players help hand the Jazz a 91-86 loss. It was their 10th loss in the last 14 games and third straight at home following a 15-5 start.
At halftime, Sloan and Williams clashed, reportedly over how a play was run. It wasnt the first time.
We had a disagreement, Williams told 1320-KFAN radio Thursday. I've seen him have worse ones with other players. Jerry's very fiery. I am, too. Sometimes we clash on things.
The All-Star point guard insisted there is no truth to the rumors that he forced the Hall of Fame coach out, and general manager Kevin OConnor also said it was false that Williams gave management a me or him ultimatum.
I would never force coach Sloan out of Utah, Williams said, deriding the media for twisting stories. He's meant more to this town, more to this organization than I have by far. I would have asked out of Utah first.
Sloan, who was choked up and wiped away tears during his farewell announcement Thursday, said there was no final straw. He simply said he didn't have the energy to coach any more, and that the losses were getting tougher and tougher to handle.
I could have done it last week, done it a week before that or waited another week, said Sloan, who has always thought it appropriate to conduct his pregame interviews next to a trash bin. When it's time for me to go, it's time for me to go.
The one thing that did surprise Sloan was that longtime assistant Phil Johnson joined him in retiring.
I came with him and I'll leave with him, the 69-year-old Johnson said Thursday.
Jazz CEO Greg Miller and other top team officials tried to talk Sloan out of retiring and insisted that no one forced either coach out. OConnor said he even begged both to stay. Team officials made a second pitch Thursday morning after telling Sloan to sleep on it.
He did, like a baby.
Best I've slept in six weeks, Sloan later quipped.
There'd be no changing his mind.
He is a little stubborn, I dont know if you noticed that about him, O'Connor said. But we're happy for him because when you can go out on your own call, that's pretty unique.
Jackson certainly saw the stubbornness.
You have to be as a coach, but he had a system and the system was effective, Jackson said. Its not easy to have a team in Utah. It's not the biggest draw in the country as far as for free agents to go there. As a colleague, we'll miss him.
What will Sloan miss?
Being around players such as Karl Malone, whom he said competed hard every day.
Yet even with Malone and John Stockton, the Jazz never did win an NBA title.
Thats one regret for Johnson, who had offers to be a head coach elsewhere but never accepted.
Everybody would like to win a world championship, said Sloan, who for all his success also never won Coach of the Year. But to come and compete (and make the NBA Finals) after you lose the first one (in 1997) that was one of the most rewarding thingseven though we didnt win it.
Sloan began working for the Jazz as a scout in 1983, became assistant to coach Frank Layden on Nov. 19, 1984, and was named the sixth coach in franchise history on Dec. 9, 1988, when Layden resigned.
He is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team, reaching the milestone Nov. 7, 2008, against Oklahoma City. Sloans other wins came with the Chicago Bulls from 1979 to 1982.
Few people have epitomized all the positives of team sports more than Jerry Sloan, NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. A basketball lifer, Jerry was as relentless in his will to win on the sidelines for the Utah Jazz as he was as an All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls. In over two decades as a coach, he taught his players that nothing was more important than the team.
Now the team moves forward with 48-year-old Tyrone Corbin, a former Jazz player who has been an assistant to Sloan the past seven years.
I have no desire for you to fill Jerry Sloans shoes, Jazz owner Gail Miller said. I'd like you to stand on his shoulders and move forward in the same direction knowing we are there to help lift you and help you do your job.
Team officials made it clear that Corbin is not an interim coach.
After so many years on the bench, Sloan had only a few bits of advice for his successor.
Be yourself, Sloan said
And follow the advice Sloan was given: Don't get on the officials too much and dont overcoach.
Sloan quipped that he got it half-right.
At his age, he wasn't looking for another job.
My wife has a job for me when I get home, Sloan said.
He also wasn't going to root against the Jazz.
Im not walking away hoping they lose, I guarantee that, Sloan said. I hope Ty does well, the team does well and the Miller family does well.
He said the same for Williams.
Most had similar hopes for Sloan, who built his reputation as a tough, gritty player in 755 games over 11 NBA seasons with the Bulls but was regarded as a fair and honest man.
He was one of my favorite people in the world, former All-Star Charles Barkley said.
Barkley wondered if there was a disconnect between old school and new school, particularly with Williams.
Maybe there is a shelf life for a coach, Barkley added.
OConnor couldnt say.
We hope the transition is as seamless at is right now, O'Connor said. If we do about the same, in 2034 we'll have another one of these press conferences.
Corbin already began meeting with players and will coach his first game Friday night against the Phoenix Suns.
He promised a few changes in practice, and in film study, but hoped to continue with some of the lessons he learned under Sloan.
Corbin also said he'd look to Williams for advice.
It was great to sit down with him and let him know firsthand I would be replacing coach and giving him an opportunity to voice as one of the leaders on this team some of his concerns and then where he think this team is and how I can help him and help this team be better, Corbin said.
After going from 15-5 to 31-23, Corbin's biggest chore may be restoring the faith.
Thu Feb 10 10:50am EST
Byron Scott lashes into the Cavs after his team's 26th straight loss
Twenty-six losses in a row for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a continuing NBA record. The team is stuck at 8-45 on the season, and outside of the return of solid players like Mo Williams(notes) and Leon Powe(notes), the group doesn't really have much to look forward to. You can understand why this would leave a dispirited bunch to hit the floor in an otherwise-anonymous game against the also-lowly Detroit Pistons.
What wasn't excused was the team's effort. Temperament? Sadness? Frustration? Sure. Apathy? No way.
And after the Pistons downed the Cavs, Cleveland coach Byron Scott lost it.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer has the story:
The performance was so bad that coach Byron Scott threw a fit at halftime and another one after the game, when he kept the locker room closed for 30 minutes.
But, frankly, he is at a loss to explain what is happening.
"I'm mad as hell because ... I can deal with losing, especially when our guys play as hard as they have in the last couple weeks," he said. "But I find it very hard to deal with when guys don't come out ready to play."
Scott is right to go off on his crew because, while the team has clearly struggled since the start of December (winning just once in that term), at least the effort was there on most nights. Poor play on both ends? Sure. Less-than-cerebral hoopage? No doubt. Sick of me asking questions?
Byron is sick of being out of answers:
"I thought we took a gigantic step backwards and it was all because of lack of effort," the coach said. "We had no sense of urgency whatsoever, and that kind of amazes me. When we've lost as many in a row as we lost and when you've been as close as we've been in the last four or five games and to be at home and come out the way we came out -- that amazes me."
Well, it shouldn't amaze Scott. But he shouldn't let it slide, either. Especially on one of the rare nights where Cleveland, and this isn't a joke, was actually favored to win.
High-speed rail: Obama's gift that nobody wants
02/10/11 8:05 PM
Vice President Biden, right, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, left, walk to a train at Union Station heading to Philadelphia. AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Obama sent his vice president, "Amtrak Joe" Biden, to Philadelphia's 30th Street rail station earlier this week to announce the administration's latest gift to the American people: A six-year, $53 billion government subsidy for the mass transit industry in order to give "80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years." And therein lies the fundamental problem - Obama, Biden and liberal Democrats in general can't resist giving the rest of us things we don't want. And they almost always use our money to pay for them, whether we like it or not. Nothing better illustrates this phenomenon than their obsession with forcing Americans out of the private passenger vehicles that enable them to go where they choose and into government-run transit systems like Amtrak, San Francisco's BART and Washington, D.C.'s Metro subway that take them where and when politicians and bureaucrats think they should go.
Transportation expert Ken Orski claims Obama's high-speed rail program is all but "dead-on-arrival" on Capitol Hill. House Republicans will zero out the program as a wasteful subsidy of a 19th century transportation technology that cannot compete with 21st century commercial airlines for long-distance travel. House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., put it well in observing that "rather than focusing on the Northeast Corridor, the most congested corridor in the nation ... the administration continues to squander limited taxpayer dollars on marginal projects. This is like giving Bernie Madoff another chance at handling your investment portfolio." The program's prospects are further dimmed by the fact that the new Republican governors of Wisconsin and Ohio don't want to participate in it, and Gov. Rick Scott, Florida's new chief executive, is also expected to decline the subsidies, even though his state has previously participated.
The fundamental problem facing Obama, Biden and others who favor big government subsidies for mass transit systems is that the vast majority of Americans prefer private cars and commercial airplanes over tax-supported trains, be they of the high-speed or light-rail variety. Amtrak's chronic inability to make a profit reflects this reality, and it is even more evident in data comparing public mass transit and private passenger cars in daily commuting. Contrary to the claims of high-speed rail and mass transit enthusiasts, the presence of such systems does not lure drivers out of their cars and into trains. Between 1980 and 2009, for example, U.S. Census Bureau data cited by Wendell Cox in a recent Heritage Foundation study showed a 12.7 percent increase in the number of drivers in cars in three large metropolitan areas that are considered prime markets for mass transit - Baltimore, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The same data showed a 19.5 decrease in the number of people using mass transit rail and bus systems. Transportation will improve in every respect when Washington stops trying to force people to do what they don't want to do.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/2011/02/high-speed-rail-obamas-gift-nobody-wants##ixzz1DdrGbulu
Police: Surgical Nurse Stole Patient�s Meds
Staff claims Sarah May Casareto �visibly drugged�
Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011, 2:59 PM CST
Shelby Capacio / FOX 9 News
MINNEAPOLIS - Police said a nurse anesthetist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital deprived a surgery patient of pain medications so that she could take them herself.
According to the complaint, the Minneapolis Police Department was contacted by the victim on Dec. 4 and was alerted that a surgical procedure he underwent on Nov. 8 involved extraordinary pain.
Police later learned that one of the nurses charged with caring for the man, identified as Sarah May Casareto, 33, of Forest Lake, showed visible signs of intoxication during the procedure.
Police said that Casareto signed out 500mcg of Fentanyl, but could not account for 50mcg. Beyond that discrepancy, investigators said they believe that Casareto used the medication intended for her patient. A review of medication sheets indicated that she administered only 150mcg, and wasted about 300mcg.
The victim was prepped by hospital staff before beginning the surgery to remove kidney stones, and doctors told him that he would be provided with medication so that he would not have to feel pain; however, a complaint filed in Hennepin County states that Casareto told him, �you�re going to have to man up here and take some of the pain, because we can�t give you a lot of medication. You�re going straight into surgery.�
The man said that once the procedure began, he felt pain that nearly brought him off the table, and it was �enough just about to bring off the table.� In fact, one of the surgical assistants had to hold him down during the procedure, and suggested restraining him.
Hospital staff said, as the anesthetic nurse, Casareto was supposed to be monitoring his pain and sedation levels; however, while the patient was �screaming and moaning� other medical staff said Casareto told the victim to, �Go to your beach. Go to your happy place.�
Officers met with one of the surgical technicians who oversaw the procedure who reported that Casareto had complained about her eyes being red from swimming beforehand and asked the technician to flush them out with saline. When the technician refused, Casareto used a syringe to flush her eyes herself, police said.
The same technician also told officers that Casareto was using grand gestures during the surgery and was talking very loudly into the patient�s ear. She also struggled to put EKG leads on the patient or apply a blood pressure cuff, police said.
The doctor, who told police he has performed hundreds of similar procedures, said this one was unusual because of the amount of pain. Coworkers said they were concerned about Casareto�s behavior during the surgery, and described her as being distracted and disoriented, even knocking over medications, falling asleep and leaving the room mid-surgery to do paperwork.
The nurse manager was called when another technician noted that her behavior was unusual and that she was not tending to her patient, police said. Hospital staff said that Casareto had to be ordered to administer medication to the patient, but was sluggish and dropped the syringe in the process.
According to the complaint, Casareto was found with two syringes in her pocket after the procedure. Both had the labels peeled off, which is against hospital policy. When confronted by a colleague, the complaint alleges that Casareto emptied one syringe but threw it into the garbage instead of placing it in the proper disposal container.
Casaretto faces a charge of theft of a controlled substance.
A spokeswoman for Allina Hospitals & Clinics confirmed that Casareto no longer works at the hospital.
The year-old post circulated through the student body on Tuesday
February 9, 2011
A Central Bucks East High School English teacher has been removed from the school after a controversial blog post from a year ago enraged her current and former students and parents on Tuesday.
Natalie Munroe, who has been at Central Bucks East since 2006, teaches English.
CB East principal Abram Lucabaugh said Wednesday morning that he and the district administrators found out about the post this morning.
We were made aware of the situation this morning, Lucabaugh said. I have removed the teacher from the school. The matter is currently under investigation.
Lucabaugh referred questions about policies for teachers and staff about online behavior to the school district.
Central Bucks School District spokeswoman Carol Counihan said Munroe has been suspended pending the investigation.
As to whether Central Bucks has a written or even verbal policy for staff and faculty on what they should or shouldn't say online, Counihan said that is part of the investigation.
"I'm sure that's part of what they'll be looking at as this unfolds," she said Wednesday.
Munroe is pregnant and had been set to go out for maternity leave, according to students and parents who know her.
What She Wrote
The debate centers over a post Munroe wrote on her blog just over a year ago. Entitled, If You Dont Have Anything Nice to Say it outlined the things she wished she could really say to parents about her students performance and personalities.
It ends with, Thus, the old adageif you dont have anything nice to saysay 'cooperative in class.'"
For a year, the only response to the post was a These are effing awesome boost from someone, presumably a friend.
But the next response reveals the danger of the Internet, where everything ever written can be seen by all.
Jokes on you because this link is being cycled throughout the students of CB East via facebook. Have fun applying for unemployment. Sincerely, cooperative in class. was posted at 5:54 p.m. on Tuesday night.
From there, word of Munroes blog spread via Facebook and Twitter.
On the Internet, Nothing is Ever Gone
The blog had been taken down early Wednesday morning, but in the age of the Internet, nothing is truly gone.
Printouts of the blog as it read late Tuesday night document the exchange, as do screenshots of the blog post and the scathing responses from people who identified themselves as Munroes current or former students.
Here are some excerpts, unedited except to remove an unprintable word:
Well..good luck getting a job as a teacher anywhere else. If youre in a school district as prestigious as CB East, you should act like it and stop blubbering to people who couldnt care less about your life. Just because you hate your job, doesnt make it okay to whine about it on the internet.
You have cheated, screwed and under-cut every single one of your students this year. And I speak for everyone when I say you were a douche to all of your students in class and made no effort to help any of us achieve our academic goals. Maybe you should learn to teach and be compassionate with your students. Respect goes a long way, and the only way people will respect you is if you respect them (too late). Have a nice life. Good luck with the inner-city hole they call a school in philly.
Im not sure if you remember me, but you were by far the worst teacher Ive ever had because you were simply a (unprintable word)I also heard that this little stunt is getting your fired, and to all the students and parents that youve pissed off over the years, Im going to take this opportunity to say good riddance!
Real Classy Ms. Munroe. I just have to say that I am very disappointed by this. I originally didnt completely loath you like the rest of the junior class, but now my feelings have changed.Also, how could you not have even thought to delete this? The worst of the posts are from a year ago, why didnt you delete them? Its understandable to want to talk about your day at work, but the internet, seriously?
Im just glad I had Hendrickson and Rosini my first couple years at East, I couldnt stand the thought of someone like you secretly bashing me and my classmates. Shame on you.
Hit the screenshot button so many times, its borderline rape.
As a former student of yours, I am so happy to see you mess up this bad. I pray and hope you get fired for this. The reason that you encounter any of these problems is because you are simply the most hated teacher in the schoolI hope that you never return from maternity leave, things do not get better, and that you enjoy working for your local trash company.
Mixing Social Media and Work
Other area teachers - some in Central Bucks, some not - say they have been encouraged by their principals to avoid using social media altogether.
Some say they've been discouraged, though not actually forbidden, from creating their own personal Facebook pages. Part of the concern isn't just about what the teachers might say; it's also about whether their students would try to "friend" them online, and the fallout from that, they say.
Many educational professional development groups encourage teachers to use social media to interact with and encourage students, as well as to make the learning environment interesting.
But nearly all come with the advice to watch what you say and do online.
"As a teacher, you are viewed as a leader and role model for your students," advises a list of teacher dos and don'ts. " You need to be careful to keep your personal and professional life separate, not crossing the line that separates using social media inappropriately for student-learning purposes.
"It is also extremely important to always make sure that the content posted will not lead to you or your students getting in trouble or casting a negative representation of your school establishment."
LINK TO ON-LINE POST AND PHOTO OF TEACHER:
Curry spice turmeric could hold hope for stroke victims
Feb 10 2011
A DRUG derived from the popular spice turmeric could be used to treat stroke patients, researchers said today.
A compound found in turmeric, a staple ingredient in curries, has been found to help protect and regenerate brain cells after a stroke.
Scientists created a new molecule from curcumin, the crucial chemical in the spice, and used it in laboratory experiments, though it is yet to be tested on humans. They found it could repair damage at a molecular level and is linked to the survival of the brain cells' neurons.
Sharlin Ahmed, research liaison officer at the Stroke Association, said: "When a stroke strikes, the brain is starved of oxygen causing brain cells to die or be damaged.
"There is a great need for new treatments which can protect brain cells after a stroke and improve recovery.
"The spice turmeric is known to have many health benefits, yet this is the first significant research to show that it could be beneficial to stroke patients by encouraging new cells to grow and preventing cell death after a stroke.
"The results look promising, however it is still very early days and human trials need to be undertaken."
Paul Lapchak, director of translational research in the Department of Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, presented the findings at the American Heart Association International Stroke Conference being held in the city.
He said the benefits of using the new drug, called CNB-001, were that it "is quickly distributed in the brain and moderates several critical mechanisms involved in neuronal survival".
In the laboratory tests, it was found to reduce muscle and movement control problems when given up to an hour after a stroke.
Turmeric, a bright yellow spice used in many Indian, south-east Asian and Middle Eastern dishes, comes from a plant that is part of the ginger family and is already thought to have many health benefits.
Curcumin has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine - practised on the Indian subcontinent - to treat a range of gastrointestinal disorders. Previous studies have also suggested it has anti-inflammatory properties and works as an antioxidant.
There is currently only one drug approved for use after an ischemic stroke, where a clot stops blood from flowing to the brain.
The Super Bowl flyover may have cost $450,000. Was it worth it?
Shut Down Corner
Thu Feb 10 09:18am EST
The fans inside Cowboys Stadium for Super Bowl XLV had as good a view of the flyover by four F-18 fighter jets as those watching at home. With the roof closed on Jerry Jones' $1.2 billion stadium, people in attendance were forced to watch the flyover on the massive high-def screens inside.
A Dallas TV reporter estimated that the flyover cost the Navy a total of $450,000. His total includes gas, operational costs and air time for the four F-18s, which traveled from Virginia to Texas for the event. The Navy told CNBC that their official records only tallies the amount spent on gas, which came out to $109,000 for the Super Bowl flights.
Even if we call it somewhere in between, the Navy still spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for a few seconds of camera time. It's like an old riddle: If four planes fly over a stadium and nobody insides sees, is it worth the cost?
Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post doesn't think so. In a column lambasting the excess of the Super Bowl, she wrote:
For absurdity, how about those four Navy F-18s flying over the stadium - with its retractable roof closed? Everybody inside could only see the planes on the stadium's video screens. It was strictly a two-second beauty shot.
She's right on one level; for the people inside the stadium, the flyover was a waste. But who says the flyover is about the fans at the game? All the Super Bowl extravagance is geared toward those watching on television, not in attendance. The anthem singers, the halftime shows and the blimp shots are for the viewer at home.
Christina Aguilera isn't making a trip to Dallas to sing a two-minute song in front of 100,000 people. She's doing it for the 100 million watching at home. Game organizers don't get the Black Eyed Peas and the Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson and Prince to stage elaborate halftime shows because fans in section 538 crave them, they do them to to entice the casual viewer watching Fox or CBS or NBC to stick around through the first half.
The justification for the flyover is similar. The Navy used the one on Sunday as a recruiting tool. Instead of spending $3 million on a 30-second commercial during the game, it spent $400,000 on a five-second advertisement that everybody watched. Why is it alright for Chrysler to get billions in bailout money and then buy a two-minute advertisement for around $10 million but not for the Navy to use a fraction of its budget to promote itself?
"These missions are included in the annual operating budget of all branches of the military and they are used as training," Mike Maus, deputy public affairs officer for the Naval Air Force's Atlantic division told CNBC. "There was no additional money provided to us, Congress did not cut us a special check to do this flyover. This is considered a training mission whether they were to fly over the Super Bowl or not."
Call it wasteful if you want, but there are far worse ways to spend taxpayer money than promotion of our nation's armed forces.
CAIRO Egypt's military announced on national television that it has stepped in to "safeguard the country" on Thursday and assured protesters that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will meet their demands in the strongest indication yet that Egypt's longtime leader has lost power. In Washington, the CIA chief said there was a "strong likelihood" Mubarak will step down Thursday.
Tens of thousands were massed in Tahrir itself, joined by striking doctors who marched in their white lab coats from a state hospital to the square and lawyers who broke with their pro-government union to join in.
Married NY Rep. Christopher Lee resigns after topless pic sent to Craigslist gal pal: report
Originally Published:Wednesday, February 9th 2011, 4:31 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 9th 2011, 9:32 PM
GawkerChristopher Lee allegedly sent a topless photo to a woman he met on Craigslist.
A married upstate congressman abruptly quit Wednesday after he was busted sending a shirtless picture and flirty emails to a woman hunting for dates on craigslist.
Buffalo-area Republican Christopher Lee, 46, said he had made "profound mistakes" and apologized to his family, staff and constituents.
He resigned "effective immediately."
Lee sent the Washington woman a series of emails last month claiming he was a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and a "classy guy."
The gossip blog Gawker reprinted the emails to the unidentified 34-year-old woman, who had posted last month on craigslist's "Women for Men" section asking for proof that not all men on the site "look like toads."
Lee, who has a young son with his wife, Michele, replied using his private Gmail account on Jan. 14.
"Hope I'm not a toad. :) i'm a very fit fun classy guy," he wrote. "6ft 190lbs blond/blue. 39. Lobbyist. I promise not to disappoint."
They sent a few brief emails back and forth, but the woman told Gawker she quit replying after she looked up Lee online and realized he was lying about his age and occupation.
Lee resigned less than four hours after Gawker posted the emails and photo.
His office first claimed his email account had been hacked - which didn't really explain the topless photo of himself flexing his biceps in a mirror.
About two hours later, Lee told Fox News he couldn't discuss the issue because "I have to work this out with my wife."
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Lee issued a brief statement saying he was resigning the seat he won in 2008. "I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents," he said. "I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. ... I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness."
Gov. Cuomo will have to call a special election to find a new representative for the 26th District, which includes the suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester as well as a vast swath of rural western New York.
Lee, who ran his family's machine-tool firm, Enidine Inc., was elected in 2008 on a no-nonsense, business-first campaign platform devoted to "holding Washington accountable for every dollar it spends."
Lee's penny-pinching ways landed him on the wrong side of New York City lawmakers last year when he tried to block a vote on the Zadroga 9/11 health bill.
Rumors had been circulating about Lee in Washington for some time.
He was named in a Roll Call story last year about House GOP leader John Boehner dressing down some members for partying too much and "inappropriately hanging out with female lobbyists."
Lee is the second upstate congressman to go down in a sex scandal in as many years.
Democrat Eric Massa resigned last year amid accusations he groped male staffers.
Tue, Feb. 8, 2011
Woman dead after buttocks-enhancement procedure
Philadelphia Daily News
A British woman who came to Philadelphia to enhance her buttocks met an untimely end when the illegal injections she received at an airport hotel room this week caused complications that led to her death Tuesday, according to police.
Now, local and federal authorities are looking for the two young women who administered the injections at a room in the Hampton Inn on Bartram Avenue. Authorities don't yet know who they are, let alone if they were licensed, said Southwest Detectives Lt. John Walker.
Felmont Eaves III, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, said it's highly unlikely that they were.
"No physician that cared about being safe and providing care would do a procedure in a hotel room," he said. "That is just a huge red flag."
The victim, identified by a source as Claudia Adusei, traveled to America Saturday with three friends from England, all of whom are in their early 20s, Walker said.
Adusei and one of her friends received injections. The surviving woman, who has been medically cleared, received hip and buttocks injections, while the victim received only injections to her buttocks, according to police.
It's unclear when the injections were administered, but around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday medics responded to the hotel when the victim experienced chest pains and trouble breathing, Walker said.
She was taken to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, in Darby, where she was pronounced dead. As of last night, the Delaware County Medical Examiner's Office had not released an official cause of death.
It also will be up to the Medical Examiner's Office to determine what Adusei was injected with, police said. That will most likely be determined by toxicology reports, which can take anywhere from six to eight weeks.
Buttock-enhancement procedures typically involve silicone injections, but Eaves, who is based in Charlotte, N.C, said that he's heard horror stories in which unlicensed people who administered buttocks-enhancement injections have used substances like caulk. He said that the most likely cause of death could be if the injected substance got in to the blood stream and traveled to the heart or lungs.
Walker said that it's unknown how big of an industry underground body enhancements is in Philadelphia.
"It's the first one we've had, we're looking into it with other agencies . . . to determine how big this problem actually is," he said.
A message board on an online forum is full of people seeking to get enhancements in Philadelphia, or who claim to have already done so.
"I'm so happy I finally got mine done Friday in philly," wrote Beautiful 2010 in a forum on Sept. 29. "I'm so happy with my results going back for more soon can't wait."
While the British tourist's death here may be the first authorities can recall, deaths have occurred across the world from bad buttocks enhancements. The most notable was a former Miss Argentina, Solange Magnano, who died from complications of a procedure in Buenos Aires in 2009.
In January, a Bronx woman, who was not licensed, was charged with illegally injecting liquid silicone in women's breasts and buttocks in her home.
"It's just sad people get preyed upon," Eaves said. "Because done in the right way, the risk is incredibly small."
He said that there is no way of knowing just how many of these illegal and highly dangerous procedures go on in this country.
"Sadly enough, we only hear about this when a tragedy like this happens," he said.
LINK TO PHOTO AND UPDATED STORY:
EDITORIAL: Obama proves Osama was right
When the chips are down, Barack abandons U.S. allies
The Washington Times 11:02 p.m., Monday, February 7, 2011
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, left, greets U.S. President Barack Obama upon his arrival at Qubba palace in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, June 4, 2009. President Obama is due to address the Muslim world in a speech during his visit to Egypt. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Osama bin Laden warned Arab regimes that the United States always abandons its friends when the going gets tough. President Obama is proving bin Laden was right.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews admits he feels ?ashamed as an American? for the way Egypt?s President Hosni Mubarak is being treated. ?We?re not handling it the way Americans should handle matters like this,? he said Friday. ?I don?t feel right about it. And Barack Obama, as much I support him in many ways, there is a transactional quality to the guy that is chilling.? Mr. Matthews explained that in relationship politics, ?You treat your friends a certain way. You?re loyal to them. And when they?re wrong, you try to be with them, you try to stick with them.?
On Saturday, former Vice President Dick Cheney reminded us that Mr. Mubarak is a reliable U.S. ally. His government received billions in U.S. aid over the last 30 years and consistently lived up to expectations. During the first Gulf War, Egypt helped us get boots on the ground in Saudi Arabia rapidly and contributed over 33,000 troops for the liberation of Kuwait. That was more than twice the number sent by France, our fair-weather friend that Mr. Obama somehow views as America?s strongest ally. Cairo assisted during the second Iraq war in less visible ways but paid a price. In 2005, members of al Qaeda in Iraq kidnapped and killed Egypt?s former ambassador to Baghdad, Ihab al-Sharif.
Mr. Mubarak?s government has been stalwart in the war on terrorism. In the 1990s, Egypt was one of the front-line states combating the rising wave of Islamic radicalism. The emergency laws the Obama administration is pressuring Egypt to lift are tools the regime used to clamp down on groups like the al Qaeda-affiliated Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Cairo works closely with Washington rounding up terrorist suspects, and the mere threat of being turned over to the Egyptians was sometimes enough to get terrorist detainees to talk.
One of the most dependable, pro-American members of the Mubarak regime is recently appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, who since 1993 has been director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service. Mr. Suleiman has a long-standing relationship with the United States dating back to his training at the U.S. Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg and has worked closely with the CIA on critical issues such as the increasing radicalization of Hamas in Gaza and blunting Iranian influence operations in the region. He holds a dim view of Islamist parties ? particularly the Muslim Brotherhood ? and wants to keep his country on the path of Westernization and modernization.
Mr. Suleiman is spearheading current talks with opposition groups in an attempt to forestall a complete political meltdown. The Obama administration has undermined his position through inept political signaling and obdurately insisting regime change in Egypt must happen as fast as possible. ?Now means now,? White House spokesman Robert Gibbs hectored last week. When special envoy and former ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner suggested the United States should help Mr. Mubarak find a face-saving way out, the State Department quickly disowned his comments. If alacrity leads to destabilization and chaos, so be it.
What if the hardline Muslim Brotherhood actually takes power? The State Department simply shrugs that the brotherhood is ?a fact of life in Egypt.? Unfortunately, no matter what government succeeds Mr. Mubarak?s administration, Egypt and the rest of America?s beleaguered allies will know one thing: They can?t trust Barack Obama.
Judge must take twice-daily blood alcohol tests to stay on the bench
4:41 p.m. EST, February 7, 2011
What happens if Judge W. Kennedy Boone III blows a .07 after lunch? Does he just return to the bench that day, or is the bailiff authorized to send him home with a designated driver? Does Judge Boone get to resume his duties, or does another judge of the Washington County Circuit Court relieve him of his docket? I realize that a .07 blood-alcohol level is not considered intoxication under Maryland law, but it's pretty close.
I raise these questions because Judge Boone, who presides in Hagerstown, has been ordered to take a blood-alcohol test twice a day once before he goes on the bench in the morning, and again after lunch. Imagine that, my fellow Marylanders: We are apparently so hard up for Circuit Court judges, we're keeping one who can't be trusted to lay off the booze; we'll just check his breath twice a day.
The designer of this creative gate-keeping is the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities, which secretly investigates complaints about the behavior of judges. The term "disabilities" refers to senility, physical illness, mental illness and alcohol or drug abuse. But apparently the commission tolerates these disabilities in a judge or at least alcohol abuse, at least with regard to Judge Boone.
The commission ordered the judge, who is 68, to take the blood-alcohol tests because he had been involved in a car accident. He'd been driving while drunk, though "blotto" would be a more appropriate word for it. A test after the accident showed Judge Boone with a blood-alcohol level of .18. That's more than twice the legal limit in Maryland. The driver of the other vehicle, a young woman, received minor neck and back injuries, according to published reports. Judge Boone pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, was fined $1,000 and sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation.
That was last March.
The accident was in early November 2009. It took the disabilities commission all this time to conclude that Judge Boone had violated Maryland's code of judicial conduct and to come up with a sanction. And this is it: twice-daily breathalyzer tests. The judge must also go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and lay off the booze.
So perhaps the answer to my opening question is right there if he blows a .07, that's evidence of drinking, and evidence of drinking "may result in further discipline," according to the "private reprimand" delivered by the disabilities commission. (Because the judge's DUI case was on the public record, his reprimand was made public as well.)
Still, it's reasonable to ask: Why is the commission being so nice in the matter of W. Kennedy Boone III? This is the same judge who, in 2007, referred to three black, female public defenders as "the Supremes" and advised their client to get "an experienced male attorney." In that case, the judge received a reprimand from the disabilities commission for "a serious lapse in judgment," and he apologized to the public defenders.
In light of what's happened since, you have to wonder if Judge Boone had been drinking before he made the "Supremes" remark. In fact, any litigant who had business in front of the judge after Nov. 6, 2009, might have wondered the same thing. According to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, that was the day Judge Boone's SUV crossed the center line on North Prospect Street and struck a car driven by a 25-year-old woman and occupied by a 3-year-old in a car seat. (The child was not injured.)
Judges are notoriously soft on drunken drivers, particularly those who stand before them on a first offense. Maybe the disabilities commission thinks Judge Boone deserved a little of that love, too.
But here's the problem W. Kennedy Boone III is ... a judge! A judge's judgment should not be in question. A judge is held to a higher standard. Citizens need to trust the man or woman who hears their cases, rules on their motions or imposes criminal sentences on their sons and daughters, nieces and nephews.
While making Judge Boone take a breath test before he goes on the bench might seem like a creative and humane concept, I can't believe we're this hard up for judges.
Perhaps the commission thought it would be kind to keep Judge Boone on the job until his mandatory retirement age of 70. It would be wiser, and in the interest of justice, if we just offer early retirement with pension, and wish him well.
LINK TO ORIGINAL STORY AND PHOTO OF THE JUDGE:
Moses Lake woman runs over herself
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 9:35 am
Herald staff writer
Columbia Basin Herald
MOSES LAKE - A Moses Lake woman was allegedly run over by the truck she was driving while attempting to elude police Monday.
An officer contacted Jona Zeigler, 40, Moses Lake, who reportedly has a felony warrant, according to Moses Lake police Capt. Dave Sands.
As the officer approached Zeigler to arrest her, while she was parked near West Broadway Avenue and South Locust Lane in Moses Lake, she reportedly drove away, according to Sands.
Zeigler allegedly drove through downtown Moses Lake, ending up on Lakeview Drive near South Barbara Avenue, where she got out of her truck to start running.
"She tried getting out of her car as it was rolling and tripped and was dragged underneath her vehicle," said Sands.
The truck stopped on a lawn by a chain link fence.
Zeigler was taken to Samaritan Hospital for reported injuries sustained from the incident.
A Moses Lake Fire Department ambulance transported Zeigler.
Police intend to arrest Zeigler for the felony warrant and felony eluding, once her health condition stabilizes, according to Sands.
Moses Lake police did not know the status of her health condition.
An elderly woman reportedly foiled a jewelry heist in the UK. Watch as this gang, armed with mopeds and sledgehammers try to break into a jewelry store, when a little old lady in a red jacket comes running up...
Lindsay Lohan to be charged with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing $2,500 necklaceRich Schapiro
Originally Published:Tuesday, February 8th 2011, 3:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 8th 2011, 7:52 PM
Sciulli/GettyLindsay Lohan was accused of stealing a necklace from a Los Angeles jewelry store last week.
Lowly Lindsay Lohan will make a familiar cameo Wednesday - in a Los Angeles court.
The "Mean Girls" actress will be hit with a felony charge for stealing a $2,500 gold necklace from a Venice jewelry shop, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said Tuesday.
Lohan, 24, will be arraigned on a single count of felony grand theft, officials said. The spiraling starlet is not expected to be paraded in handcuffs in front of the cameras, TMZ.com reported.
Instead, she will surrender to the court and is expected to be freed on bail after her arraignment. If convicted, she could face up to three years in the slammer on the grand theft charge.
Surveillance video reportedly captured Lohan inside Kamofie & Company on Jan. 22, the day the necklace disappeared. A week later, she was snapped wearing the "one-of-a-kind" piece.
The boutique's owner reported the theft to cops, who gave evidence to prosecutors last week. Lohan insists she took the bauble on loan and intended to return it.
Her lawyer, Shawn Holley Chapman, has denied the allegations. The new charges represent the most serious Lohan, who is on probation for a 2007 drunken driving case, has ever faced.
She is also the subject of a criminal probe involving allegations that she assaulted a worker at the Betty Ford Center.
Lohan was arrested twice in 2007 on drunken driving and drug possession charges, but both were misdemeanors.
Pictured: Lindsay Lohan wearing the $2,000 necklace she is accused of...
Sarah Palin's Kind Of Hot, But Obama Will Make Me Money in 2011
Jan. 31 2011 - 7:54 am | Gene Marks
Image by AFP/Getty Images
I'm really not a political guy. I don't watch Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity. I don't care that Keith Olbermann left his job. I'm a registered Republican but I don't chew tobacco, own a pickup truck or carry a gun.
I do, however, think that Sarah Palin is kind of hot. But that has nothing to do with my politics. I consider myself right of center, but not too far right. I voted for George Bush twice. And'gasp' I also voted for Obama. I don't know if I'm going to vote for him again. But I do know one thing: as the owner of a technology company and a small business, President Obama will make me money in 2011. As long as I know how to make money from him.
Yes, I know the President does some things that make small business owners like me worry. A lot. The size of the deficit is freaking me out. The rhetoric about taxing the 'rich' is perplexing. The cost of healthcare reform is a big concern. His love of labor unions is disconcerting. And inviting Barbara Streisand to a state dinner for the Chinese Premier? My God man, don't you know she prefers take out?
Even so, there are plenty of ways for a business owner like me to make money this year, thanks to the President.
For example, I'm going to follow the money. The President, even before he became President, made it clear where he wants to invest the government's money. Healthcare. Energy. Construction. Education. And he's a big believer in big government too. These themes were reinforced not a week ago in his State of the Union speech. Do I agree? Who cares? From Caesar to Churchill, smart business owners I know who want to do things quicker and better don't let politics get in the way of making money. They follow the money, and keep their personal opinions separate from their business.
Which is why in 2011 I'm going to step up my marketing to these industries. I'm going to buy a few lists. I'm going to kick off some email campaigns. I'm going to hire a few telemarketers to make a couple of calls. And we're going to target those industries where the money is flowing. My technology firm sells accounting, customer relationship and service management software. Companies in education, energy, construction and healthcare need this stuff just like any other business. So why not buy it from me?
I'm also going to market more to the government too. I'll be spending more time on FedBizOpps, the site where all government contracts are listed. I'm going to create a few customized searches to target potential branches of the government that may also need the technology that my company sells. I'll save the searches and have new opportunities emailed to me every week. At some point I may need to get Government Services Administration (GSA) certified, but I'll worry about that when the opportunity is right. The point is that if the government, under Obama, is a growing business then I'm going to grow my technology firm right along with it.
In 2011 I'm going to take advantage of the Section 179 deduction, which was not only extended for a couple of years, but also significantly increased as part of the Jobs Bill that Obama signed last fall. The Section 179 rule allows most small businesses to deduct up to $500,000 of qualified capital expenditures (like software, hardware and equipment) against their income. It's meant to stimulate investment and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'll purchase some new software this year and upgrade some computers'all at a big discount after I figure in my tax savings.
I like the Section 179 deduction because not only can it save me money, but it can make me money too. Being a technology firm, I'll use this deduction as a carrot to persuade prospective clients to purchase the business software that we sell. Many small businesses aren't fully versed on the particulars of this rule. Once they understand that they too can realize a huge tax savings when they buy my products they're more apt to buy. Because the President pushed to extend this rule for the next couple of years I'm expecting to make money on both the income and expense side. So thank you President Obama.
Speaking of taxes, I'm grateful that the President finally caved and extended all of the Bush tax cuts through 2012. This is another way he's helping me make money in 2011. If these tax cuts were allowed to expire I would have had to not only pay more taxes on the money my company made but also on the interest, dividends and capital gains I earned on many of my company's investments. If I were to get hit by a bus my family would have had to pay a boatload in estate taxes. That worry has passed. Our tax rates did not go up so I don't have to pay more taxes in 2011, which means I'll be putting more in my pocket. And this also explains why, suddenly, my wife has been encouraging me to eat more fatty foods and exercise less.
This year I may borrow a few dollars to fund some growth and generate more profits. Thanks to the President, more capital has been provided to the Small Business Administration, banks and to the states so that they can loan more money to small companies like mine. Many business owners have complained that banks haven't been lending this money over the past couple of years. But considering the mistakes they made in the past I understand why today's banking executives are only offering credit to companies that pass tougher due diligence. Which is fine by me. The money's there, thanks to the President, but even I don't want it unless both my bank and I feel comfortable that I can pay it back.
Obama's doing other stuff to help business owners like me generate more profits in 2011. I've never considered selling my products overseas but now I'm thinking about it. He said he wants to double exports by 2015, so the U.S. Export-Import bank just launched new initiatives to help us accomplish this. And new legislation passed last year allows tax free capital gains from investments in small businesses if held for more than five years.
Obama will also help me make more money in 2011 because the 2012 election is only next year. Since his shellacking in the last Congressional elections, the President has obviously shifted more towards the center. And his approval ratings have gone up. Which puts the heat on Sarah Palin to wear sexier outfits. So everyone's a winner.
This also means that at least for the next year, I don't expect the President to be doing much of anything that will negatively impact my business. He's no dummy. He wants to get re-elected. And he doesn't have a Democratic majority in Congress any more. I don't have to worry about any big schemes, like stimulus bills and healthcare reform, at least for the next two years. Instead I can watch him make nice to the business community, promising to decrease regulations and hug our lobbyists while I just focus on selling more product.
So thanks President Obama. Keep doing what you're doing, at least for this year. And I'll make sure to profit.
A 51-year-old Baltimore man has been charged with leaving a fake "destructive device" outside a Baltimore County government building in Towson. The device � a toilet festooned with newspaper clippings, an electronic transmitter and a cell phone � triggered a bomb scare that closed surrounding streets. Duane G. Davis is also charged with making a false statement.
The Baltimore Sun
4:21 p.m. EST, February 8, 2011
Charges filed vs. man accused of leaving toilet outside Towson building
Duane G. Davis charged with leaving fake 'destructive device'
Mississippi Man, Earl Scriven, Jailed After Stealing a Can of Vienna Sausage
February 05, 2011 09:55 AM EST
Do you lke vienna sausage? Mr. Earl Sciven does, but he didn't buy his. Things are bad with the economy, and people are going to unusual lengths to make ends meet, including stealing littel cans of sausage. Shoplifting is up, petty theft is up and crooks are taking a risk for even a small amount of month. How much does a can of sausage cost? If you guess that it to costs$1.28 in one store in Mississippi you are right!
Earl L. Scriven, a 50-year-old Mississippi man, must have had a burning desire for a can of vienna sausage. He was arrested on Wednesday after being spotted by an employee who says he saw Scriven grab the can of sausage and leave the store.
This $1.28 can of sausage may possibly land Scriven in prison. Mississippi State law declares that anything under $500 is a misdemeanor, unless it is the third offense. And it is his third offense for shoplifting, which makes it a felony. He may be having his next bologna and white bread sandwich in prison due to this felony. It is possible he will have to pay a $5,000 fine or he may even have to do 5 years in prison, according to Mail Online.
Not a wise choice to steal that can of vienna sausage now was it Mr. Scriven? He is out on $2,500 bail and hopefully staying out of the grocery stores.
Doctor's orders: Go to Mexico
Patient says she was told to leave Isle hospital because she is an illegal immigrant
Feb. 7, 2011, 4:52AM
GALVESTON — The crushing news came last month as Maria Sanchez was being prepared for surgery to remove a banana-size tumor along her spine that had crept between her vertebrae. Unable to use her right hand because of the growing tumor, Sanchez, 24, had been at the University of Texas Medical Branch's John Sealy Hospital for six days when, she said, a Spanish-speaking doctor told her she had to leave the hospital immediately because she was an illegal immigrant. The doctor said she should have surgery in Mexico, according to Sanchez. Sanchez's hospital records state that she was discharged because she was "an undocumented pt (patient) with no insurance." Records show that Sanchez underwent at least one medical procedure and surgery was scheduled before she was dismissed without warning Jan. 12. After being discharged, Sanchez called her husband, Luis Aguillon, a legal U.S. resident, who arrived at the hospital to find his wife and his mother sitting on her bed crying. "They treated us like animals, like dogs or something," said Aguillon, 36, an unemployed welder. Sanchez's abrupt expulsion raises ethical and legal questions about the treatment of low-income patients with life-threatening conditions. A doctor who reviewed Sanchez's medical records for the Houston Chronicle said they showed that UTMB ejected a woman with a potentially fatal condition because she was unable to pay.
Losing use of limbs
"The longer the delay, the more loss of function she is likely to get," said Dr. Bill Nealon, a former UTMB general surgeon now at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Medical records describe a nonmalignant but potentially life-threatening tumor.Aguillon said the growing, painful tumor is causing loss of his wife's ability to use her arms and walk. UTMB doctors, Aguillon said, told him his wife would eventually be unable to walk and that the tumor would grow so large it would make it impossible for her to breathe without a tube piercing her chest. "If we are going to be brutally honest, this is a practice that takes place at other hospitals," Nealon said. "The real problem for UTMB is that it was documented, and they have a commitment for care to the indigent. "Nealon said there is no legal basis for discontinuing treatment because of a patient's inability to pay. No law either prohibits or requires hospitals to accept illegal immigrants as patients outside the emergency room, experts said. In cases where a patient's immigration status is an issue, it's generally in the context of the patient's inability to pay, they said. However, a hospital is ethically obligated to provide care after accepting a patient regardless of immigration status or ability to pay, said Laurence B. McCullough, Dalton Tomlin chair in medical ethics and health policy at Baylor College of Medicine. "Every hospital knows this," McCullough said. "This is not rocket science ethics." A statement issued by UTMB said federal privacy laws prevented the hospital from commenting on a specific case. "All patients are financially screened, although the timing at which the screening occurs may differ depending upon the patient's medical condition when admitted," the statement read. "In cases of financial hardship, patients are referred to several potential sources of financial assistance."
Told to go to Mexico
Aguillon said his wife's ability to pay was never mentioned and he was handed an application for charity care on his way out after his wife was refused care. Under a heading for follow-up appointments, Sanchez's discharge order states, "With PCP (primary care physician) in one week, NS (neurosurgery) as scheduled in Mexico. "Aguillon said he was upset about being told to take his wife to Mexico, a country he left when he was 13. "It's like saying to that black lady, because she is black, go to Africa," he said. Exactly how UTMB decides who gets charity care is unclear, said Dr. Merle Lenihan, author of "Clearing the Fog," a 2009 report on hospital charity care policies in Galveston County. State law requires hospitals to have a charity policy prominently posted in waiting rooms, but Lenihan says UTMB's policy is so vague that there is no way to know how decisions to deny charity care are being made. She said it was especially troubling that the public has no way to know how a taxpayer-funded institution decides how it uses tax money designated for charity care. "If you put it in the larger context, these are thousands of people who are either accepted or denied based on totally unknown criteria," Lenihan said. UTMB spokesman Raul Reyes declined to respond to the criticism.
Accepted as patient
Medical records show that Sanchez was admitted to the emergency room at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center on Jan. 5. The next day she was transferred to UTMB because Clear Lake doctors lacked the neurosurgical skills needed to treat her, the records state. The records show that a Clear Lake doctor spoke by phone with a UTMB neurosurgeon who accepted Sanchez as a patient. McCullough said that once a patient is accepted, a hospital has an ethical obligation to continue that care. Legally, the hospital could determine that the patient was stabilized and no longer needed treatment, he said. A doctor can terminate care by sending a patient a return-receipt letter and giving them reasonable time to find alternative care, according to Texas Medical Association guidelines. Aguillon said he and his wife received no referral other than what was noted on the discharge document."I even asked the social worker, where I can go, because a social worker is supposed to help people," Aguillon recalled. "She said nowhere. "Aguillon eventually took his wife to at least five hospitals and three clinics. Aguillon finally moved from Galveston to Houston so he could qualify for care at Ben Taub General Hospital, where she is being treated.
LINK TO PHOTO OF SANCHEZ:
Obama: Haters don’t know me
Feb 7, 2011 02:35AM
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he doesn’t take it personally when people say they hate him.
And the thing he dislikes most about being president is the constant, intense scrutiny. “The people who dislike you don’t know you. The folks who hate you, they don’t know you,” Obama said Sunday in an interview broadcast during Fox’s pre-game coverage of the Super Bowl. “What they hate is whatever funhouse mirror image of you that’s out there. They don’t know you.” Asked by Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly whether his critics annoyed him, Obama said: “By the time you get here, you have to have had a pretty thick skin. If you didn’t, then you probably wouldn’t have gotten here.”
The 14-minute, live interview sought Obama’s views on a range of timely matters, including the unrest in Egypt and the ultimate fate of the new health care law.
O’Reilly also probed Obama on lighter topics, including which team would win the NFL championship game and the worst part of his job. Obama lamented anew about “being in the bubble.” He is followed practically everywhere by staff, Secret Service agents and the media. “It’s very hard to escape,” said Obama, seated in the Blue Room of the White House. “Every move you make — and over time, you know, what happens is, is that you feel like you’re not able to just have a spontaneous conversation with folks. And that’s a loss. That’s a big loss.”
Asked what surprised him after he took office, Obama said it’s that he has never been asked to solve an easy problem. “I think that the thing you understand intellectually but that you don’t understand in your gut until you’re in the job is that every decision that comes to my desk is something that nobody else has been able to solve,” he said. “The easy stuff gets solved somewhere by somebody else. By the time it gets to me, you don’t have easy answers. ”Obama said he has to use his best judgment knowing that “you don’t have perfect information and you know that you’re not going to have a perfect solution. ”As for the game, Obama declined to choose between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers.“ Here’s the thing, once my Bears lost, I don’t pick sides,” he said. AP
Super Bowl XLV Steelers-Packers: Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25 (final)
A dramatic second half comes to a close as the Steelers turn the ball over on downs, giving the Packers their fourth Super Bowl victory.
10:08 PM EST, February 6, 2011
On fourth and five from the Pittsburgh 33-yard line, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's pass to receiver Mike Wallace was high and went off his hands for an incomplete pass as Tramon Williams was on coverage.
The Packers take over on downs and proceed to run out the clock.
Final score: Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25.
That's Super Bowl Ring No. 4 for Green Bay.
A huge 44-yard pass to from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to receiver Greg Jennings on third and 10 from the Green Bay 31-yard line set up three more points for the Packers.
They proceeded to drive to to the Pittsburgh five before Jordy Nelson was unable to stretch to grab a pass in the right-corner of the end zone on third down. Sam Shields was covering for the Steelers.
Mason Crosby kicked a 23-yard field goal with 2:07 left to put the Packers ahead by six.
Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25.
Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace got behind the Packers' Sam Shields to grab a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 7:34 remaining.
Green Bay safety Nick Collins was late coming over in coverage as Wallace grabbed the ball just before the goal line and cruised in. The drive covered 66 yards on seven plays.
Then Steelers receiver Antwaan Randal-El ran in a two-point conversion on an option pitch by Roethlisberger.
Green Bay 28, Pittsburgh 25.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit receiver Greg Jennings on an eight-yard touchdown pass to the right-corner of the end zone, beating the coverage of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
The big play on the Packers' eight-play, 55-yard drive was a 38-yard pass from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson that set up Green Bay at the two-yard line. Rodgers was sacked for a six-yard loss before the touchdown pass.
Green Bay 28, Pittsburgh 17, with 11:51 left in the fourth quarter.
Packers defensive end Ryan Pickett and linebacker Clay Matthews combined to jar the football loose from the hands of Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.
Green Bay linebacker Desmond Bishop recovered the loose ball on the Packes' 45-yard line.
With the exchange of kicks and some Green Bay penalties, the Steelers were able to switch field position in their favor.
As the third quarter ends the Steelers are in Packers' territory behind by four points. If Pittsburgh can claim the victory, it would be the largest deficit overcome in Super Bowl history at 18 points.
Green Bay 21, Pittsburgh 17.
The Steelers had a chance to move within a point, but Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham pulled a 52-yard field goal attempt with 4:30 to go in the third quarter.
On a third-and-13 play before the field-goal attempt, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had plenty of time to pass but no one was open and Packers linebacker Frank Zombo finally sacked the quarterback for a loss of two yards.
On Pittsburgh's first possession of the second half, the Steelers ran five consecutive times for 50 yards.
Rashard Mendenhall covered the last eight yards to paydirt and Pittsburgh moved to within four points with 10:19 to go in the third quarter.
Green Bay 21, Pittsburgh 17.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finds receiver Hines Ward in the right corner of the end zone, after he lost defensive back Jarrett Bush with a fish-tail-like move, for an eight-yard touchdown reception.
Green Bay 21, Pittsburgh 10, with 39 seconds left in the half.
Pittsburgh drove 77 yards on seven plays in 1:45. After the kickoff, the Packers ran out the clock.
The Packers opt to run out the clock after Pittsburgh's ensuing kickoff.
Halftime: Green Bay 21, Pittsburgh 10.
With good protection, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hits receiver Greg Jennings on a 21-yard post pattern between three Steelers playing zone.
The Steelers' Ryan Clark came within inches of tipping the pass away and safety Troy Polamalu hit Jennings after the catch but couldn't prevent him from reaching the end zone.
The Packers drove 53 yards on four plays for the score.
With 2:31 left in the half, Green Bay 21, Pittsburgh 3.
Ben Roethlisberger completed a pass to Antwaan Randle El to move the Steelers across the 50-yard line for the second time.
But two plays later, the Packers' Jarrett Bush stepped in front of a pass intended for Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace and intercepted it at the Green Bay 47 with 4:28 left in the half.
Shaun Suisham puts the Pittsburgh Steelers on the scoreboard with a 33-yard field goal with 11:53 to go in the first half.
Pittsburgh drove 49 yards in 13 plays, with the drive stalling on the Packers' 15-yard line.
Green Bay 14, Pittsburgh 3.
Under pressure, Ben Roethlisberger scrambles through the middle of the pocket and races toward the left sideline to the Packers' 32-yard line, moving the Steelers across the 50 for the first time.
End of first quarter, Green Bay 14, Pittsburgh 0
With the Steelers snapping the ball from the eight-yard line, Packers defensive tackle Howard Green pushed the pocket back and hit Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as he released a pass. The throw fell way short of receiver Mike Wallace, who was being covered by Tramon Williams.
Packers safety Nick Collins stepped in, front of Wallace and Williams, caught the floating pass and returned it 37 yards for another Green Bay touchdown.
The Packers were penalized for excessive celebration, but now lead 14-0 with 3:34 to go in the first quarter.
Despite pressure from his right side, with LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior making life difficult for Green Bay tackle Brian Bulaga, Aaron Rodgers drove the Packers across the 50 (a game first for either side) and then connected with Jordy Nelson on a 29-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline.
Nelson ran past Pittsburgh's William Gay, who was half a step behind Nelson, who grabbed the pass just before the end zone and scored. Green Bay leads 7-0 with 3:51 to go in the first quarter.
The Packers averted disaster on the game's first punt when Tramon Williams muffed the kick but was able to recover after a wild scramble on the Green Bay 21-yard line.
Teammate Sam Shields was close to Williams when he fielded the punt and seemed to distract the returner. Pittsburgh's Keenan Lewis was also nearby but couldn't come up with the loose ball.
Lea Michele of the television show "Glee" sang America the Beautiful and Christina Aguilera sang the Star-Spangled Banner, giving the players and coaches another set of goose-pimples on the sideline. A few tears were shed too.
The Green Bay Packers won the coin toss and decided to kick off, meaning they will receive the ball to start the second half.
The Steelers be moving from right to left on your sensory produced Blogosphere Stadium field. The Steelers are wearing white and the Packers green.
Sarah Palin: I don't trust we know true motives of protesters in EgyptHelen Kennedy
Sunday, February 6th 2011, 3:02 PM
Weiner/APFormer Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara.
Yin DongxunOpposition demonstrators gather at the Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says she is skeptical of the true motives of the protesters demonstrating in Cairo.
"We want to be able to trust those who are screaming for democracy there in Egypt, that it is a true sincere desire for freedoms," she told the Christian Broadcasting Network in her first public comments about the two-week-old crisis in Egypt.
"How do we verify what it is that we are being told, what it is that the American public are being fed via media, via the protestors, via the government there in Egypt in order for us to really have some sound information to make wise decisions on what our position is."
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets for the last 13 days, demanding greater freedom and the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 30 years.
The images brought fear to the hearts of Arab despots and hope to pro-democracy movements in other authoritarian regimes.
But Palin was dubious.
"We need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support," she said.
Palin was especially concerned about the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, the most organized of Egypt's opposition parties, which has been asked to join political talks about the future government.
"Mubarak, he's gone, one way or the other you know, he is not going to be the leader of Egypt, that that's a given, so now the information needs to be gathered and understood as to who it will be that fills now the void in the government. Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood?
"We should not stand for that, or with that or by that," she said.
Palin said she was "not real enthused" about President Obama's handling of the crisis, harkening back to the famous 2008 primary campaign commercial branding him unready to handle a crisis.
"This is that 3 a.m. White House phone call and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House it seems that that call went right to the answering machine," Palin said.
"Nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak."
She added, "Now, more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House."
She did not offer what would have done in Obama's place.
In general, Republican politicians talked about for a 2012 presidential run have remained mute on Egypt, while leading GOP lawmakers have been quietly supportive.
The exceptions are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has slammed the Obama administration as clueless about the Muslim Brotherhood, and Mike Huckabee, who criticized Obama for "abandoning a 30-year ally" in Mubarak.
On other topics:
Palin, who has a communications degree from the University of Idaho, said she wanted to use her skills to help out what she calls the "lamestream media."
"I've said this for a couple of years now, I want to help 'em. I want. I have a journalism degree, that is what I studied. I understand that this cornerstone of our democracy is a free press, is sound journalism. I want to help them build back their reputation. And allow Americans to be able to trust what it is that they are reporting," she said, according to a transcript of the exclusive interview with David Brody provided by CBN.
"What would give me great joy is what would become irrelevant is the misreporting that comes out of the mainstream media."
Asked what she would do differently if she jumped into a national campaign again, she said:
"I would continue on the same course of not really caring what other people say about me or worrying about the things that they make up, but having that thick skin and a steel spine."
"I do believe, David, that there are more commonsense conservative Americans on our side on the issues that we stand for, than there are those who oppose the idea of individualism and God-given liberty and opportunity to work hard and to progress according to our own work ethic and our own merits."
Obama's jobs plan: On a collision course with GOP budget cuts?
Christian Science Monitor
February 4, 2011
The Obama administration outlined an "innovation strategy" for US job growth Friday, which emphasizes federal economic investments at a time when Republicans are calling for deep budget cuts.
The blueprint follows a State of the Union speech in which President Obama called for America to "out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world."
Although this theme isn't a new one for Mr. Obama, the White House has moved it to the forefront as the president seeks follow-on economic policies after stimulus and tax-cut legislation during his first two years in office. The move also comes as Obama has been trying to rebuild trust with American business.
His pitch: The economy will prosper if industry and government cooperate to improve the climate for entrepreneurship, manufacturing, and advanced research.
The strategy has three broad parts:
• Invest in "building blocks" of innovation, such as education, basic science research, and infrastructure for transportation and communication.
• Promote marketplace innovators through steps including tax incentives and a streamlining of the patent system.
• "Catalyze breakthroughs" in some industries that the administration views as crucial: clean energy, nanotechnology, biotech, and space capabilities.
The last goal is the most controversial, as it could move government more heavily into the role of "picking winners" in the private sector, by pushing funds toward emerging industries.
Elements of Obama's strategy appeal to many business leaders, and economists say the federal government has a long history of helping to lay the groundwork for innovation and jobs. But corporate America is also worried about high federal deficits – and whether runaway spending will diminish America's competitiveness.
Republicans, newly ascendant in Congress, have seized on the fiscal challenge as their emphasis. Even as Obama has made this innovation week (headlined Monday by a new "Startup America" initiative), they rolled out details of a deep spending-cut plan.
Many Republicans hope to roll back discretionary federal spending to 2008 levels, arguing that restraining federal debt is the best way to restore the job-creating spirits of private-sector employers.
The battle is partly over differing economic visions, but it also reflects positioning for elections in 2012. Polls show an anxious public, supportive of government policies that might help create jobs but also eager to halt the rapid rise of national debt.
Obama's position is that fiscal austerity is necessary, but should be imposed gradually as the economy recovers. Investing in innovation, administration officials say, will come in the context of a disciplined, long-term budget plan.
Republican spending cuts in the current budget year would fall in some of the same general categories that Obama hopes to target for investment: transportation, energy, science, and education.
Unveiling a report on the innovation strategy at a news conference Friday, Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling said the policies could create jobs in the present as well as the future. A federal commitment to nurture industries like clean energy, he said, sends a signal to potential job creators "who have cash on the sidelines."
Obama's budget plans, to be released Feb. 14, won't ignore the parallel need of "getting our fiscal house in order," Mr. Sperling said.
The latest national job numbers, released Friday, offered a mixed message on the economy. Although few private-sector jobs were created in January, according to a survey of employers, the US unemployment rate fell to 9 percent.
Even with the improvement in the unemployment rate, the Labor Department tallied about 14 million Americans as unemployed. The budget deficit, for its part, is also daunting: $1.5 trillion this year, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office estimate.
Next week, Obama plans to continue his innovation theme with a visit to Marquette, Mich., to promote improved wireless services that could help exporters and other businesses. Obama's goal is for high-speed wireless service to be accessible for 98 percent of Americans within five years.
The Obama administration outlined an 'innovation strategy' Friday. But GOP plans for budget cuts would fall in some of the same general categories that Obama hopes to target for investment.
6 Feb 2011
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Craig R. McCoy
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Trial ready to begin in ‘kids for cash’ case
Testimony about an ex-judge could shed light on the Luzerne scandal; others pleaded guilty.
“I’m kind of hoping that he’s feeling the anxiety that Hillary and I felt before the trial she went through,
that horrible, horrible feeling that somebody has your life in their hands.”
Laurene Transue, whose daughter was jailed at age 15 in 2007 over a MySpace page that made fun of an assistant principal Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. “I didn’t sell any kids down the river. I’m not pleading guilty to anything relative to cash for kids, embezzlement, extortion, quid pro quo. Absolutely not.” in an interview given before his guilty-plea agreement came undone
Once Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. could do no wrong. He was the popular judge, “Mr. Zero Tolerance,” who wouldn’t brook any misbehavior from belligerent youngsters appearing before him in juvenile court.
WARREN RUDA / Citizens’ Voice Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. in Scranton in 2009.
At right is Michael T. Conahan, who pleaded guilty, is awaiting sentencing, and could be called as a witness.
Today, despite all his protestations, Ciavarella is seen as the pitiless overseer of a cutthroat courtroom in which he conspired with another judge to grow rich upon the suffering of children.
Starting Monday, Ciavarella, 60, will get his chance to redeem his name as jury selection in his federal corruption trial finally gets under way, two years after the socalled kids-for-cash scandal exploded in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The trial is eagerly awaited in Luzerne County, where prosecutors say Ciavarella, now an ex-judge, and the county’s former president judge, Michael T. Conahan, took in $2.9 million in exchange for shipping children and teenagers to forprofit detention centers.
Among other cases, Ciavarella jailed a 12-year-old boy for two years for crashing the family car in a joyride. He gave a six-month sentence to a teen spotted giving the finger to a police officer. He ordered an 11-year-old boy — 4-foot-2 and 63 pounds — taken away in leg shackles when his parents were unable to pay a $488 fine.
Since the scandal broke in 2009, the string of indictments and guilty pleas has managed to awe and appall many residents in a region long grown cynical about pols who dip into the public till. But many of the details haven’t been aired in open court since everyone else charged in the case has pleaded guilty.
Ciavarella’s prosecution is expected to be the climax of a scandal that has mushroomed month by month. In all, federal prosecutors have brought charges against nearly 30 officials, including a third county judge, numerous court officials, a state senator, school board members, and county officials.
Marsha Levick, chief counsel for the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, said the alleged judicial wrongdoing constituted “the most serious judicial scandal in the history of the United States.”
The state Supreme Court has agreed to wipe out the criminal records of up to 4,000 youngsters whose cases were tainted over five years in Ciavarella’s courtroom. Lawyers for these children and teens have lawsuits for money damages pending in federal court.
The state legislature set aside $ 500,000 to help what victims-rights advocates call the “original victims” — the people who were injured or whose possessions were stolen or damaged in the underlying delinquency crimes in the first place.
Yet to the consternation of their advocates, the state has yet to mandate that all juvenile defendants be represented by a lawyer — a key reason the Luzerne County hearings turned into kangaroo court.
With other major players in the alleged conspiracy on deck as possible prosecution witnesses — most notably Conahan, who has pleaded guilty in the scandal — the public is bracing for a trial that could shed new light on the depth of the wrongdoing.
Ciavarella always has the option of pleading guilty and accepting whatever sentence the court imposes.
Barring that, the trial should “air a lot of dirty laundry that perhaps has not seen the light of day yet,” said Ronald V. Santora, a lawyer for a former Luzerne County judge who had raised questions about Conahan.
This view was echoed by Levick, whose Juvenile Law Center played a significant role in unearthing the scandal.
If Conahan or others testify against Ciavarella, “ one would expect the gory details of what these individuals were up to and the mischief they were up to come out,” she said.
Until their downfall, Conahan was the intimidating top judge in the century-old courthouse in Wilkes-Barre and the more amiable Ciavarella the sole judge to hear juvenile cases.
Over five years, federal prosecutors say, the two friends and neighbors raked in $2.9 million in kickbacks and bribes, $143,500 of it cash stuffed into FedEx boxes. The alleged bribes helped fuel a lavish lifestyle that included their joint purchase of an $ 800,000 condo affiliated with a yacht club in Florida.
The money came from the owner and builder of two detention centers for delinquent youths. In return, the government says, the judges closed a competing county-run detention facility and made sure the ex-owner, Robert Powell, a rich Hazleton lawyer and friend of Conahan’s, got $58 million in county prison contracts.
Moreover, a state investigatory commission found, Ciavarella kept the centers busy. In 2007, one out of four juveniles ruled delinquent in Luzerne County was removed from home — more than double the rate elsewhere in Pennsylvania.
His justice was swift and brusque. “You’re gone,” he told 10th grader Hillary Transue before sending her away. Her crime: creating a parody MySpace page that made fun of an assistant principal.
Laurene Transue, whose daughter was jailed at age 15 in 2007 over the MySpace page, said she and other parents were glad the trial was “finally here.”
“I know this might sound awful,” Transue said. “I’m kind of hoping that he’s feeling the anxiety that Hillary and I felt before the trial she went through, that horrible, horrible feeling that somebody has your life in their hands.”
Hillary appeared without a lawyer for a hearing that lasted 60 seconds. She spent a month at a wilderness camp until the Juvenile Law Center had Ciavarella’s decision reversed.
“I wish all of these kids had been given the same rights as Mr. Ciavarella has been given,” her mother said. “I think about my kid — down came the gavel, and they put her in handcuffs and they took her out. No words, no hugs.”
The scandal unfolded against a systemic breakdown of oversight, as defense lawyers, prosecutors, the Judicial Conduct Board, and the state Supreme Court all missed warning signs and opportunities to rein in the two judges.
Tellingly, more than half of the youngsters appeared before Ciavarella without an attorney. That was the highest rate of non-representation in any juvenile court in the nation, Levick said.
Of 22 lawyers on the public defender’s staff in Luzerne County, “not even one,” but “a portion of one,” was assigned to Juvenile Court, Basil G. Russin, the former chief public defender in Luzerne County, told an investigative panel.
When a member of his staff raised an alarm about the lack of representation, by his own account Russin told him, “We’re not going to seek clients.”
As Ciavarella cracked down and even as the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader spotlighted his high incarceration rate, the public saluted him. In 2006, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Greater WilkesBarre named him man of the year.
“Everybody loved it. The schools absolutely loved it. They got rid of every bad kid in school,” Russin said. “When I was in school, if you threw a spitball, maybe you went to the principal’s office and sat for a couple of periods. Last couple years, if you threw a spitball, they got the police and you ended up in Juvenile Court and got sent away.”
So even in a region seemingly inured to corruption, there was shock in January 2009 when news broke that Conahan and Ciavarella had agreed to plead guilty and serve seven-year prison sentences, well under the terms recommended in federal guidelines.
But an outraged federal judge, Edwin M. Kosik, killed the lenient deal six months later. Kosik grew disgusted after both judges minimized their wrongdoing.
Last July, Conahan pleaded guilty anew, without any agreement on his sentence. No date has been set for a sentencing hearing. This should ratchet up the pressure on Conahan to deliver should he be called to testify.
There is little doubt that the defense faces an uphill battle. Its task will be to smash the “kids for cash” allegation, which has become the central motif of the scandal.
The defense’s job will be harder not only because of the array of cooperating witnesses, but because of public admissions already made by Ciavarella.
In extraordinary testimony in 2009, he acknowledged taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the owner and builder of the detention centers. He also admitted not reporting the money on his income taxes or his public income-disclosure forms.
While defense lawyer William Ruzzo declined to discuss the substance of his strategy, he did say he expected that 2009 testimony to be cited by prosecutors.
“I suspect it will be,” Ruzzo said. “It is testimony under oath by Mark.”
These admissions were made as another part of the scandal unfolded, having to do with another Wilkes-Barre newspaper, the Citizens’ Voice.
In 2006, Ciavarella, sitting without a jury, found the paper guilty of libel in stories that in part dealt with Billy D’Elia, the alleged head of organized crime in the region. He ordered the paper to pay $3.5 million in damages.
On appeal, the newspaper’s lawyers dug up some remarkable evidence on the way to winning a pending retrial.
They presented testimony that Conahan had met regularly with D’Elia, that D’Elia had used a court security guard as a courier to carry sealed envelopes to Conahan ( it was never established what was in them), that Conahan had manipulated the court schedule to assign the libel case to Ciavarella, and that Conahan had predicted that the paper would lose the libel suit.
Conahan refused to testify at the appeals hearings. Not so Ciavarella.
“ We were flabbergasted that he took the stand,” said W. Thomas McGough Jr., one of the paper’s lawyers at the time. “ Everybody else invoked the Fifth Amendment, and he could have done that.”
In court, Ciavarella insisted that he had decided the libel suit on the merits and denied that the case had been fixed.
Yet he also dug himself into a hole, making statements almost certain to be quoted back to him at his own trial.
In one exchange, McGough asked him if he was a corrupt judge. “Yes,” Ciavarella replied. McGough also pressed him about why his financial-disclosure forms failed to list the money from the detention center.
“So you lied on that?” McGough asked.
“I didn’t list it, correct,” Ciavarella replied.
“So you lied?” McGough said.
“Correct,” Ciavarella replied.
At the same time, Ciavarella was adamant that the undisclosed money had not been a bribe. Rather, he insisted, it was a “finder’s fee” — money that the judges received for putting the owner, Powell, into contact with their builder, Robert Mericle.
Pressed by reporters, Ciavarella stuck to that point, saying the money had not driven his judicial decisions.
“I didn’t sell any kids down the river,” he said in a typical interview, given before his guilty-plea agreement came undone.
“I’m not pleading guilty to anything relative to cash for kids, embezzlement, extortion, quid pro quo. Absolutely not.”
While the initial guilty-plea agreements did not use such phrases, they did state that Ciavarella and Conahan had taken millions “in exchange for official actions.” Both judges signed forms agreeing to this statement.
If the money paid Ciavarella was on the up and up, prosecutors are sure to point out, why did he hide it — failing to report it on his taxes and disclosure forms?
Powell and Mericle both have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the scheme. (D’Elia is in federal prison in Arizona on an unrelated conviction for witness tampering and conspiracy to launder drug money, and presumably won’t testify.)
Ciavarella may not be the only one to regret his public statements.
In court in late 2009, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon A. D. Zubrod, the top prosecutor in the case, also called the payments to the judges a “finder’s fee.”
Zubrod did so at the hearing at which Mericle, the detention centers’ builder, pleaded guilty to a relatively minor charge of withholding information from investigators.
At that session, Zubrod seemed to go out of his way to downplay Mericle’s criminality.
“This is not a kickback or bribe in any sense. It is a common practice,” Zubrod said of the payments. “Mr. Mericle simply paid a finder fee to the judges in accordance with standard practice.”
In a filing Thursday, Ciavarella’s lawyers said they wanted to tell the jury about Zubrod’s statement. The defense team said the prosecutor’s remarks were “directly inconsistent” with the government’s contention that Ciavarella had taken bribes.
Prosecutors won’t grant interviews. In a court filing, they urged the judge to forbid the defense team to mention Zubrod’s remarks.
They argued that there was no contradiction — that while Mericle thought he was paying a routine finder’s fee, his associate in the deal, lawyer Powell, used the money to bribe the judges.
In an interview, Dan Richman, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Columbia Law School, said some judges might permit a jury to hear the apparent contradiction.
“There’s a distaste for the government taking contradictory positions at different times to serve its purposes,” Richman said.
In any event, David Sosar, an associate professor of political science at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, said many there had grown increasingly frustrated, feeling that the exact nature of the scandal had remained uncharted. He said the trial might remedy that.
“It’s been unresolved,” Sosar said. “A lot of people seem to think this will help this county get past some of the damage.”
Romney leads Obama, Huckabee even, in early 2012 survey
02/06/11 11:15 AM
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads President Obama by two points, 44-42 percent, in the latest Rasmussen Reports national survey of voter preference for the 2012 presidential campaign. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is in a dead heat with Obama, with both drawing 43 percent.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin trails Obama by 11 points, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is behind the Democratic incumbent by eight and Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, by nine points.
As he should, Scott Rasmussen offers some important qualifiers about these results: "Seven lesser-known candidates trail by anywhere from 10 to 17 percentage points." Rasmussen added that:
"However, the most significant finding is that regardless of what GOP candidate is named, the president earns between 42% and 49%. This suggests the campaign is starting off in a fairly competitive environment, though much can change in the next year-and-a-half.
"If the president’s job approval ratings improve from this point forward, it is likely that his support will increase against all Republican candidates. If his job approval ratings fall, his numbers are likely to weaken against all potential candidates. It is reasonably safe to assume that the president’s actual vote total on Election Day 2012 will be close to his overall job approval rating.
"It’s also worth noting that a great deal of caution must be taken in terms of interpreting individual results. It is far from clear which candidates will seek the Republican nomination and who ultimately will be nominated.
"At this point in 2008, everybody assumed the Democratic nominee would be Hillary Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani was leading the Republican field. One candidate on our list, Mike Pence, has already dropped out of the race. Other names will be tested in the coming weeks."
Pence, the Indiana representative many conservatives viewed as their likely strongest candidate, announced last week that he will seek his state's governorship rather than the White House in 2012.
For more from Rasmussen on this survey, go here
Gas prices climbing despite hefty supply
Sandy Shore and Chris Kahn
AP Business Writer
February 5, 2011
Updated 14h 25m ago |
Retail gasoline prices are likely to creep higher as anti-government protests continue in Egypt and concerns remain about the stability of the Middle East.
Paul Sakuma, AP
This Chevron station in Mountain View, Calif., had prices well over $3 on Jan. 28, 2011.
The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.124 on Friday, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. That's up 2.4 cents in the past week. Analysts expect prices to stay at $3 a gallon or higher — perhaps rising as much as 8 cents over the next two weeks — until the conflict in Egypt is resolved and tensions ease in neighboring countries.
The pump increases come at a time when U.S. gasoline inventories are at an 18-year high of 236.2 million barrels.
Crude oil imports are up, too, averaging 9.1 million barrels a day in the past four weeks, which is 641,000 barrels a day more than the four-week period in 2009. At the same time, motorists are staying off the roads, with demand up less than 1% in the past month, as winter storms hit many parts of the country.
"We will continue to have an amply supplied gasoline market all the way up through the spring and summer," energy analyst Jim Ritterbusch said. "But it's a market that remains subject to the vagaries of geopolitics."
Without the uncertainty about the Middle East region, it's likely retail gas prices would have fallen from 5 cents to 10 cents recently, PFG Best analyst Phil Flynn said. Much of the concern that has kept oil prices higher lies in the stability of the region.
Egypt controls the Suez Canal and a nearby pipeline that, combined, carry about 2 million barrels of day from the Middle East to customers in Europe and America. That's a relatively small amount, compared with the 87 million barrels consumed worldwide every day, but traders fear the protest will spread to nearby OPEC-producing countries. It was a volatile week for oil prices.
Crude started just below $89 a barrel on Monday and shot up to almost $93 the same day. The rest of the week, prices stayed between $92 and $90 a barrel before dropping again on Friday, back to Monday's level. Oil prices fell after the government reported a sharp drop in the January unemployment rate, which helped the dollar strengthen against other currencies.
Commodities like oil are priced in dollars, so a stronger dollar makes oil less attractive to buyers with foreign currency. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery fell $1.62 to $88.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In London, Brent crude lost $1.88 at $99.88 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Connecticut man, Robert Michelson, busted after calling 911 to ask about growing marijuanaAliyah Shahid
Saturday, February 5th 2011, 12:30 PM
Robert Michelson, 21, was busted by Farmington Conn. cops after he called 911 to ask a dispatcher how much trouble he'd get in for growing marijuana.
A Connecticut man's plan to grow marijuana went up in smoke after he called 911 and asked how much trouble he would get into for growing the drug.
"I was just growing some marijuana and I was just wondering what, how much, you know, trouble you can get into for one plant," a not-so-bright Robert Michelson asked on Thursday night.
When the dispatcher asked if there was an active crime in progress, the 21-year-old answered "possibly."
Dispatchers traced the call to Michelson's home in Farmington, where cops found drug paraphernalia and a small amount of pot.
Michelson admitted he bought seeds and equipment online for growing.
He was released on a $5,000 bail. As he left the police station, he gave dispatchers two middle fingers.
"Presumably for doing such a good job," police said.
LINK TO 911 CALL:
The Baltimore Sun
9:29 PM EST, February 4, 2011
A House Republican leader who is pushing to end the state's $15 million earmark program has herself introduced or sponsored bills this year that would use the fund to send $1.4 million to projects in her district.
House Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who called for an end to the use of so-called bond bills this week during the Republican response to Gov. Martin O'Malley's state of the state address, says she introduced her legislation before she saw his budget proposal and learned how dire the state's fiscal situation is.
"I think all of us would love to have projects funded," the Eastern Shore Republican said. "It is not a responsible thing to do given the capital budget situation."
She said that she's doubtful any of the projects will be funded, and does not plan to introduce or lend her name to any more bills.
In her televised response to the O'Malley's address on Tuesday, Haddaway-Riccio said Republican lawmakers believe local projects should not be funded "in light of the economic times we face." She has also signed a letter asking House Speaker Micheal E. Busch to end the program for the current year.
She introduced two bond bills and co-sponsored another before O'Malley unveiled his budget proposal. But she co-sponsored two more after O'Malley's announcement.
Haddaway-Riccio said she had committed to those bills before seeing the budget earlier, and had no control over when they were put in the hopper.
House Minority Leader Anthony O'Donnell said it would be unfair to her district if she did not fight for deserving projects, and said that view is not inconsistent with a broader push to end the program.
Fiscal conservatives have long criticized bond bills, which they view as pork-barrel spending intended purely to entice wavering lawmakers into supporting the governor's budget. The House and Senate split the $15 million allotment in half, and then divvy out the funds to lawmakers.
Christopher B. Summers, the president of the conservative Maryland Public Policy Institute, said it is "absurd" that any Republican would introduce a bond bill. He doubted Haddaway-Riccio's contention that she didn't grasp the size of the state's fiscal problems.
"You've been in the legislature for how long?" he asked. "The state is 1.6 billion in the hole."
But, in a broader sense, he blames the problem on the Democrats who dominate the General Assembly, who, he believes, should end the practice.
Haddaway-Ricco, who represents Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico and Talbot counties, is asking the state to borrow $250,000 for a bulkhead replacement at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum and $250,000 for a hospice.
She's also co-sponsoring a bill to borrow $500,000 for a senior housing center in Cambridge; $75,000 for an atrium entrance at the Dorchester Center for the Arts, and another bill to borrow $300,000 for the construction of a replica of the Choptank River Lighthouse.
LINK TO PHOTO:
Feb 5 2011 - 10:46am
Obama sells out U.K. to Russia despite his popularity there
In news certain to shock the United Kingdom, where President Obama is popular, every Trident missile supplied to Britain by the U.S. will be known to Russia as part of Obama's arms control deal, according to information obtained by Wikileaks. From the Daily Telegraph:
A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the “New START” deal.
Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.
Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.
During the negotiations, somebody must have told Obama to lie back and think of England. Unfortunately, it looks like he did. Most galling is the willingness of U.S. negotiators, and thus President Obama, to use Britain to secure the support of Russia for an arms control treaty that puts America at a disadvantage.
In fact, Britain has up until this moment had very strong sentiments for Obama. During the 2008 election, a British poll found that 53 percent felt certain Obama would make the best president:
Barack Obama is overwhelmingly Britain's choice to be the next US president, five times more popular than his Republican rival, John McCain, a Guardian/ICM poll shows today. Carried out ahead of the Democratic candidate's visit to Britain next week, the poll reveals that 53% feel certain he would make the best president, with only 11% favouring McCain; 36% declined to express an opinion.
There wasn't much question from region to region either:
The survey, carried out late last week, found that Obama's support is strongest among male voters - 57% of whom want him to be president. There are small regional variations in support: 50% back him in the south-east, against 57% in the north of England. But overall enthusiasm for an Obama presidency is solid across people of all ages and backgrounds. Unlike the US, there is no evidence of young Britons being keener on Obama than older people.
Even an article in the Daily Mail in December still boosted for Obama, headlined, "Finally something to smile about: Obama's popularity is on the rise as Sarah Palin's takes a tumble." And the London Times reported in July 2009 that British support for the U.S. following Obama's election was up 16 points from the previous year, at 70 percent:
Europeans have grown fonder of the US since Barack Obama became President, but Israeli affections have cooled and the Muslim world has barely noticed the new man in the White House.
These are the findings of a global opinion survey published by the Pew Research Centre yesterday. The poll found the biggest change in mood in Western Europe.
In Britain and most European countries, sentiment towards the US has returned to levels not seen since before the Administration of George W. Bush.
The French love America, with 75 per cent pronouncing themselves favourably disposed towards the US. Britain rings in second with nearly 70 per cent, up 16 points since last year.
This isn't the first time Obama has spurned the British. Within days of becoming president, he returned a bust of Winston Churchill that was a gift to the U.S. He gave the Queen an iPod and the Prime Minister some DVDs.
In other words, here's how Obama has cultivated the "special relationship:" By treating the Brits like a dog.
At a time when corporate profits are through the roof, the Dow is flirting with 12,000, Wall Street paychecks are fat again, and big corporations are sitting on more than $1 trillion in cash, you'd expect jobs be coming back. But you'd be wrong.
The U.S. economy added just 36,000 jobs in January, according to today's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Remember, 125,000 are needed just to keep up with the increase in the population of Americans wanting and needing work. And 300,000 a month are needed -- continuously, for five years -- if we're to get back to anything like the employment we had before the Great Recession.
In other words, today's employment report should be sending alarm bells all over official Washington. Granted, unusually bad weather may have accounted for some of the reluctance of employers to hire in January. But even considering the weather, the economy is still terribly sick. (Technical note: The official rate of unemployment fell to 9 percent from 9.4 percent, but that's because more workers have left the labor market, too discouraged to continue looking for work. The official rate reflects how many people are actively looking for work.)
We have two economies. The first is in recovery. The second remains in a continuous depression.
The first is a professional, college-educated, high-wage economy centered in New York and Washington, that's living well off of global corporate profits. Corporations continue to make money by selling abroad from their foreign operations while cutting costs (especially labor) here at home. Wall Street is making money by taking the Fed's free money and speculating with it. The richest 10 percent of Americans, holding 90 percent of all financial assets, are riding the wave. And their upscale spending has given high-end retailers and producers a bounce.
The second is most of the rest of America, and it's still struggling with a mountain of debt, declining home prices, and job losses. In coming months most Americans will also be contending with sharply rising prices of food and fuel.
Our representatives in Washington see and hear mostly the first economy. The business press reports mainly on the first economy. Corporate and Wall Street economists are concerned largely with the first economy.
But the second economy will determine our politics in 2012 and beyond.
And not even the first can be sustained permanently on its own. Corporate profits cannot continue to rise on the basis of foreign sales (which are slowing as Europe adopts austerity and China raises interest rates), the purchases of the richest 10 percent of Americans (which are dependent on a rising stock market), and cost-cutting measures at home (which are necessarily limited). Without a strong and broadly-based middle-class recovery, America's big money economy will fall in on itself. A major stock market "correction" is a certainty.
Our huge public debt ultimately reflects our lack of individual restraint. But we can do better.
From council rooms in small towns to the marble corridors of Capitol Hill, Americans are rightly focusing on ways to halt the tide of red ink.
Facing huge budget shortfalls, states like California and New York are considering radical cuts to balance their books. President Obama acknowledged the seriousness of the problem in his State of the Union message, calling it a "mountain" that could bury us and urging a five-year partial budget freeze. The president is right to admonish us about the magnitude of the problem that he helped mightily to exacerbate. Political leaders who are serious about fiscal discipline deserve some credit for finally acting to correct course.
But even the most aggressive measures to reform federal spending won't address the underlying cause of our public debt.
That's because the deficit that matters most is not denominated in dollars at all. Its currency is of the heart and mind. It's a manifestation of the values with which we circumscribe our actions, our purposes, and our values. I speak of a deficit of character, which arguably is the root of all of our major economic and social troubles today.
Your character is not defined by what you say you believe. It's defined by the choices you make. History painfully records that when a people allow their personal character to dissipate, they become putty in the hands of tyrants and demagogues. Such tyranny often takes the form of actual rulers, but it can also involve the serfdom of our nobler nature to a lord of lustful impulse. Decadence can destroy democracy as surely as dictatorship.
Among the traits that define strong character are honesty, humility, responsibility, self-discipline, courage, self-reliance, and long-term thinking. A free society is not possible without these traits in widespread practice.
When a person spurns his conscience and fails to do what he knows is right, he subtracts from his character. When he evades his responsibilities, foists his problems and burdens on others, or fails to exert self-discipline; when he allows or encourages wrongdoing on any scale; when he attempts to reform the world without reforming himself first; when he obligates the yet-unborn to pay his current bills for him; when he expects politicians to solve problems that are properly his own business alone; he subtracts from his character – and drags the rest of us down, too.
Mountainous debts, unconscionable deficits, irresponsible bailouts, and reckless spending: These are all economic problems because they sprang first from character problems.
Reform starts with recognition. Not the easy kind that points out flaws in others, but the hard kind that reflects on, then roots out, errors in ourselves.
Is it wrong to take a dollar from the responsible and give it to the irresponsible? Of course it is, which is why so many of us decry the billion-dollar bailouts given to reckless but politically well-connected government agencies and private firms. Yet how many of us accepted taxpayer-funded aid when we fell behind on mortgage payments for homes we never should have bought?
We would express outrage at parents who, after borrowing heavily to buy gadgets and expensive meals, canceled their children's preschool when the bills came due. So why do we cheer for government "stimulus" that will similarly hurt our children? What is it about doing these things a trillion times over that makes it right?
Once upon a time in America, most citizens expected government to keep the peace and otherwise leave them alone. We built a vibrant, self-reliant, entrepreneurial culture with strong families and solid values.
Somewhere along the way, we lost our moral compass. Like the Roman republic that rose on integrity and collapsed in turpitude, we thought the "bread and circuses" the government could provide us would buy us comfort and security. We have acted as if we really don't want to be free and responsible citizens, so we get less responsibility from our leaders and less freedom for us.
The good news is that Washington's profligacy sometimes shocks us into sobriety.
In 1890, American voters raged against the Republican-dominated House of Representatives for its lavish spending. They punished the "Billion Dollar Congress," cutting the GOP roster in the House by more than 90 seats. A similar backlash occurred this past fall, when Republicans gained 63 seats after Democrats (with some GOP complicity) spent hundreds of billions of dollars we didn't have.
In both cases, voters seemed mindful of Thomas Jefferson's warning: "We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude."
Heeding that exhortation takes more than punishing spendthrift incumbents in Congress once in a while. Our federal government is ultimately a reflection of our self-government, so Americans who are serious about fixing the country's fiscal mess must begin by fixing their own character.
These resolutions make a good starting point:
•I pledge myself to a lifetime of self-improvement so I can be the model of integrity that friends, family, and acquaintances will want to emulate.
•I resolve to keep my hands in my own pockets, to leave others alone unless they threaten me harm, to take responsibility for my own actions and decisions, and to impose no burdens on others that stem from my own poor judgments.
•I resolve to show the utmost reverence and respect for the lives, property, and rights of my fellow citizens. I will remember that government money is really my neighbors' money, so I will not vote to loot them. I will stand on my own two feet, behave like an adult in a free and civil society, and expect the same of my children.
•If I need help, I will ask my family, friends, faith network, neighbors, local charities, or even strangers first – and government last.
•If I have a "good idea," I resolve to elicit support for it through peaceful persuasion, not the force of government. I will not ask politicians to foist it on others because I think it's good for them.
•I resolve to help others who genuinely need it by involving myself directly or by supporting those who are providing assistance through charitable institutions. I will not complain about a problem and then insist that government tinker with it at twice the cost and half the effectiveness.
•Finally, I resolve that the highest authority in which I place my strongest faith will not be the United States Congress.
Lawrence W. Reed, an economist and historian, is president of the Foundation for Economic Education.
Rikers Island inmate's alleged credit card scam netted $1 million from iPads and Apple computersMelissa Grace
Wednesday, February 2nd 2011, 4:23 PM
Acker/BloombergThe Apple Inc. iPad is displayed for a photograph. The popular tablet was part of an $1 million scam... ...as were several other valuable Apple products.
A Rikers Island inmate ran a nationwide cyber-crime ring from behind bars that forged fake credit cards to buy $1 million in iPads and Apple computers, officials said Wednesday.
Shaheed "Sha" Bilal, 28, directed the massive syndicate, instructing his girlfriend and three younger brothers on how to encode the magnetic strips on credit cards with stolen financial information, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said.
An army of underlings then went on shopping sprees with the phony plastic, buying up iPads and MacBook laptops that were later sold at a discount to a fence for cash.
Vance's office charged 27 members in the nearly three-year operation, including Bilal's 29-year-old sweetheart, Ophelia "Philly" Alleyne, whom he deputized acting boss after getting busted on a separate charge.
Officials said he would coach Alleyne by telephone from jail.
Aside from employing his brothers, Bilal even kept the name of his illegal operation in the family: He dubbed the conspiracy "S3" in honor of his baby boy, according to a law enforcement source.
"This was, in essence, a family affair," Vance said at a press conference Wednesday.
According to officials, Bilal's gang would purchase stolen credit-card information from websites based overseas.
Using inexpensive credit-card encoders, Bilal's brothers then programmed the information onto the magnetic strips of credit cards.
Investigators said the scam - which lasted from June 2008 to December 2010 - went undetected for so long because the counterfeit credit card had the criminals' names, not the victims'.
The ring spanned 13 states and the District of Columbia. It was so easy and lucrative that one gang member who was a shopper branched out to form his own syndicate, prosecutors said.
Officials said that the conspiracy compromised hundreds of bank accounts.
The bust was the work of a joint investigation between Vance's office and the Secret Service.
Over the 18-month probe, investigaters deployed their own modern technology, including electronic eavesdropping and GPS technology, to track the gang's activities.
The ring created email accounts to store and circulate stolen card numbers with which they manufactured the fake plastic.
One account, created by Bilal when he was released from prison in December, was "[email protected], Vance said.
Nine members of the criminal gang including Bilal and Alleyne, were hauled before a Manhattan judge Tuesday on conspiracy and grand larceny charges. Prosecutors said other members are still being rounded up.
It was not immediately clear if Bilal's brothers Ali Bilal, Isaac Bilal, 25 and Rahim Bilal, 21, have appeared before a judge.
The three were also in charge of recruiting shoppers and running the fake credit card production, officials said.
How Cowboys owner Jerry Jones found a way to profit on the Super Bowl
The Dallas Morning News
In the NFL , an owner and his team don’t profit directly from hosting a Super Bowl . The league takes over the stadium rent-free and treats the host the same as every other club. All 32 teams share equally from the sale of tickets, concessions and merchandise.
“There is really no direct benefit,” said Bill Prescott, chief financial officer of the Jacksonville Jaguars , who hosted the 2005 game. Other recent hosts say the same.
But Jerry Jones will be an exception.
Because of his ownership stakes in the concessions company that operates at Cowboys Stadium , and dozens of Papa John’s stores in North Texas, the Dallas Cowboys owner benefits from every food and beverage item sold at the stadium and every pizza ordered from his Papa John’s stores by fans converging on the area.
In addition, the Super Bowl will produce nearly $10 million in ticket and parking taxes dedicated to paying off a portion of stadium debt that Jones guarantees.
In a news conference this week, Jones talked about the game lifting “all boats” economically in the region. As one of the most innovative owners in the NFL, he just happens to have more boats.
Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels acknowledged the owner’s private business connections with this game but said, “You really host a Super Bowl for the region, prestige and global exposure, not for the money.”
Indeed, hosting the game can cost an owner money. Super Bowl preparations have tied up Cowboys Stadium since mid-January, Daniels said, precluding other possible revenue-generating events during that time.
Long term, the biggest potential payoff for the Cowboys owner could come if his stadium — and, therefore, Legends Hospitality Management, the stadium’s concessionaire — is picked to host the Super Bowl on a regular basis.
“Having that sort of revenue and profit boost every four to five years increases the value of the company significantly,” said Mike Rawlings , chief executive of Legends.
Jones owns about a third of Legends, giving him a large interest in the company’s market value and profits, including from the Super Bowl.
Rawlings expects Super Sunday sales of food and beverages at the stadium to approach $5 million or more. Proceeds will be divided between the NFL and Legends. During the regular season, Legends splits revenue with the Cowboys.
Rawlings wouldn’t reveal that split, but typical agreements can give teams 35 percent to 50 percent of revenue, depending upon the category of item sold.
The concessions company was founded two years ago in partnership with the Steinbrenner family, owner of the New York Yankees , two investment firms and the Jones family.
Legends’ annual revenue is at least $150 million, Rawlings said. If the company continues its rapid growth, the enterprise has the potential to be worth several hundred million dollars, based on a comparison with a competitor, Centerplate , which was once publicly held.
Asked in a brief interview after his news conference if he agreed with The Dallas Morning News’ analysis of the potential valuation for Legends, Jones said, “Yes.”
For regular-season games, Legends also handles merchandise sales at Cowboys Stadium. But the NFL brings in a separate company for the Super Bowl.
On the pizza front, Papa John’s International expects a super boost from the Super Bowl, nationally and in North Texas, said John Schnatter, the company’s founder, chairman and co-chief executive.
The Jones family owns a 49 percent stake in 75 Texas Papa John’s stores, primarily in North Texas. Papa John’s, a sponsor of the Cowboys and the NFL, owns 51 percent. Nationwide, Papa John’s has 2,875 stores.
“I think we’ll have a record week in Dallas,” Schnatter said, boosted by out-of-town fans here for the game.
Super Sunday is one of the biggest days for pizza in America. Schnatter predicted his company would sell 1 million pizzas nationwide on Sunday, up from 900,000 a year ago. He estimated, roughly, that Jones’ stores would sell about 26,000 pizzas. Most of those would be sold even if the game weren’t played in North Texas.
Papa John’s declined to say how much revenue those numbers would produce. But multiplying by $10 (the special price for any large Papa John’s pizza in the days leading up to the game) offers at least a ballpark idea of possible revenues: a quarter of a million dollars for Jones’ stores and $10 million companywide.
Schnatter said Jones and the Cowboys have been good business partners. “I wish I had 30 more Jerry Joneses, frankly,” Schnatter said. “I couldn’t find a better partner.”
Jones acquired his stake in the Papa John’s stores in mid-2004, when they were losing money. “We’re talking about going from millions and millions of dollars negative to millions and millions of dollars positive,” Schnatter said of Jones’ stores, declining to be more specific. “He’s by far the most talented businessman I’ve ever met.”
Arlington contributed $325 million to the cost of Cowboys Stadium, funded primarily through an increase in the local sales tax. An additional $148 million of the original stadium debt involved bonds issued by Arlington and backed by Jones.
That obligation has two dedicated funding sources: a 10 percent ticket tax on stadium events and a $3-per-vehicle parking tax that produces minimal revenue.
The NFL estimates that the ticket tax for the game will total about $9.5 million, said Bill Lively, president and chief executive of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee. According to the committee’s agreement with the league, the NFL pays the tax to the city, and the committee reimburses the NFL. It’s the host committee’s single largest expense.
The ticket tax ultimately benefits Jones by paying down a debt that he guarantees.
Indirect benefits for the host owner and team go beyond prestige and exposure. Even though the NFL gets all the revenue, the extra tickets that the host receives can benefit current ticket holders and be used as marketing incentives for season ticket and suite renewals.
The Jaguars, according to Prescott, the team’s CFO, were able to increase renewal rates because of Jacksonville’s Super Bowl.
As host, the Cowboys receive 5 percent of Super Bowl game tickets. The two participating teams each receive 17.5 percent of the tickets, the 29 other teams each receive 1.2 percent and the NFL gets 25.2 percent.
Also, every suite holder at Cowboys Stadium is entitled to buy his or her full allotment of tickets, half in a suite (not necessarily their own), half elsewhere in the stadium. These tickets come out of the NFL’s allocation.
“The Super Bowl enhances value for everybody,” Jones said, and makes the stadium more attractive for events in the future.
Last year, less than three weeks before the Super Bowl, Sun Life became the naming rights sponsor for the Miami Dolphins’ stadium. Some think hosting the game helped the timing of that deal, which directly benefited the Dolphins.
That won’t happen this year for Cowboys Stadium. But New York Giants co-owner John Mara has said that hosting a Super Bowl could help his new stadium attract a named sponsor.
New Meadowlands Stadium , shared with the Jets , hosts the 2014 game. Still, Mara said last year after the site announcement: “You do not make any money hosting the Super Bowl. You are lucky if you break even.”
He could take some tips from Jerry.
JOHN BOEHNER SEX PROBE
February 4, 2011
New Speaker of the House JOHN BOEHNER is embroiled in a bombshell sex scandal - involving at least two different women, The ENQUIRER has learned!
Capitol Hill insiders and political bloggers have been buzzing about an upcoming New York Times probe - detailing an alleged affair that the 61-year-old married father of two had with pretty Washington lobbyist LISBETH LYONS.
And an ENQUIRER investigation has uncovered a bedroom encounter that Boehner - second in line of succession to the presidency - allegedly had with LEIGH LaMORA, a 46-year-old former press secretary to ex-Colorado Congressman JOEL HEFLEY.
The Ohio native, a congressman for 20 years, and his wife Deborah, 62, have been married for 37 years.
But she has shunned the capital's social scene, and he is often seen out on the town without her.
"Deborah normally stays back in Ohio while John spends most of his time in D.C.," said an insider. "It is not uncommon for Boehner to attend parties and events without his wife."
Contacted by The ENQUIRER in late January about the cheating charges, Deborah stood by her man and would not comment about the explosive allegations.
But The ENQUIRER learned that Deborah was nowhere to be seen when the ruggedly handsome congressman attended a casino party at the home of a D.C. lobbyist in August 1997 - and reportedly hooked up with pretty congressional press secretary Leigh LaMora.
Lawmakers say guards union is a key obstacle in effort to keeping cellphones out of prisons
The guards' contract has a clause that would cost the state millions if they had to be stopped and searched on the way into work, lawmakers say, and it's prison workers who are mainly to blame for inmates like Charles Manson possessing phones.
Los Angeles Times
February 3, 2011, 1:48 p.m.
Lawmakers struggling to keep cellphones away from California's most dangerous inmates say a main obstacle is the politically powerful prison guards union, whose members would have to be paid millions of dollars extra to be searched on their way into work.
Prison employees, roughly half of whom are unionized guards, are the main source of smuggled phones that inmates use to run drugs and other crimes, according to legislative analysts who examined the problem last year. Unlike visitors, staff can enter the facilities without passing through metal detectors.
While union officials' stated position is that they do not necessarily oppose searches, they point to a clause in their contract that requires corrections officers to be paid for "walk time" – the minutes it takes them to get from the parking lot to their posts behind prison walls.
Putting metal detectors along the route, with an airport-like regimen involving removal of steel-toed boots and equipment-laden belts, could double the walk time, adding several million dollars to officers' collective pay each year, according to a 2008 Senate analysis.
Since then, cellphones have proliferated exponentially in California's state lockups. This year, state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) is calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to "put the [search] issue on the table" in contract negotiations with the California Correctional Peace Officer Assn.
"Everybody coming into the state Capitol building has to go through a metal detector….You even get searched when you go to a Lakers game," said Padilla, who for three years has sponsored unsuccessful legislation to crack down on the contraband phones. "Why don't we have that requirement at correctional facilities, of all places?"
Brown, whose campaign received generous financial support from the union and who made one of his few public appearances between the November election and his January inauguration at the union's annual convention in Las Vegas, would not say whether searches are under review.
"Our office does not discuss the details of pending contract negotiations," said Brown spokesman Evan Westrup, who noted that the prison system is testing technology to block cellphone calls in prisons.
More than 10,000 cell phones made their way into California prisons last year -- up from 1,400 in 2007, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. Two of those wound up in the hands of Charles Manson, who is serving a life sentence for ordering the ritualistic murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others in 1969.
The phones can fetch as much as $1,000 each behind prison walls, according to a recent state inspector general's report, which detailed how a corrections officer made $150,000 in a single year smuggling phones to inmates. He was fired but was not prosecuted because it is not currently against the law to take cellphones into prison, although it is a violation of prison rules to possess them behind bars.
Padilla had a bill in 2008 that would have required searches of prison staff, but it died after union officials pointed out the extra pay that would follow.
This year, Padilla, who also gets financial support from the union, has steered clear of it by omitting staff searches from a bill that would impose a $5,000 fine on anyone caught trying to smuggle a phone to an inmate. The proposal would also lengthen sentences for prisoners caught with phones by up to five years if it can be shown that they used them to commit crimes.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last year, saying the penalties weren't stiff enough.
Such punishment might not deter an inmate like Manson, who in all likelihood will die in prison, but the threat of added time might make other prisoners think twice about keeping a phone, Padilla said.
Prison officials added 30 days to Manson's sentence after guards found an LG flip phone under his mattress in March 2009. They found him with a second phone, equipped with a camera, on Jan. 6, Thornton said. She declined to provide details about where Manson got the phone, saying the case is still under investigation.
Analysts for the Senate Public Safety Committee who studied last year's legislation left no room for doubt about who they believed was responsible for most of the unauthorized phones.
"All indications are that the primary source of cellphones being smuggled into prisons is prison staff," they wrote. "The committee has been presented no evidence of visitors who are properly screened through metal detectors being responsible for the problem."
Guard union spokesman JeVaughn Baker said pointing the finger at corrections officers is all wrong.
"Sure, there are instances where officers have brought them in," Baker said. "But to say that prison staff are the most likely smugglers of cellphones is simply inaccurate."
Asked whether union members would be willing to forgo extra pay for standing in line at metal detectors, Baker said, "The law demands that individuals are compensated for the time that they work."
Suspect's phone found charging at scene of burglary, police say
The Associated Press
7:54 a.m. EST
February 3, 2011
S.F. police officer arrested on theft charges
Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco Chronicle
February 3, 2011 04:00 AM
A San Francisco police officer was arrested Wednesday and faces two felony charges related to the theft of a vehicle registration sticker that the district attorney's office says he stole from a motorist during a traffic stop.
Officer Gregory Hui, 45, who also faces a misdemeanor embezzlement charge, had his bail set at $18,000, police said.
Hui was reportedly on patrol in the Richmond District in January 2010 when he pulled over a motorist for having a broken brake light, District Attorney George Gascón said in a news release.
During the traffic stop, Hui cited the driver for an improper registration sticker, according to the district attorney's office.
The officer, who has been on the police force for seven years, then confiscated the tag and put it on a car he co-owns, which had an expired tag, Gascón said.
"Police officers are sworn to uphold the law and protect the public," Gascón said in a statement. "When they violate the law and public trust, they must be held accountable, particularly when the allegations involve on-duty conduct. The law must apply to everyone equally."
Hui was suspended without pay on Dec. 17 while the police internal affairs unit investigated the incident.
He was charged with two felonies for fraudulent use of vehicle registration and a misdemeanor charge of "theft under the color of authority," police said.
You can disagree with Obama without being racist
1:43 PM EST, January 28, 2011
Recently I was discussing President Obama's first two years in a local bar with a group of five strangers. As you might expect, the different people had different opinions. While it's sometimes puzzling how far apart people can be on the same issue, it's also a reminder of part of what makes this country so great. The free exchange of ideas in a cultural setting. People can openly voice their opinions without fear of reprisal.
Well, most of the time anyway.
With President Obama, if you disagree with a policy of his, you sometimes run the risk of being accused of racism. Every president has had their critics, and Mr. Obama is no different. In fairness to Mr. Obama, I have never heard him play any type of race card. However, I am puzzled at how if I think the new health care bill is not a good idea, some of his supporters can accuse me of hating a race of people. Many times it's a former Obama voter who's accused of racism when they disagree with a specific policy. Doesn't make much sense, does it?
Accusing someone of racism simply for disagreeing with the president is not only silly, it's flat out irresponsible. And the sad part for the people making these accusations is that it only opens the door to more divisiveness.
Steve Krywucki, Sykesville
The Baltimore Sun
Sarah Palin would be a 'great' President, says former Mass. governor Mitt RomneyAliyah Shahid
Wednesday, February 2nd 2011, 3:18 PM
Platt,Beck/GettyMitt Romney's bid for the GOP nomination in 2008 went up in flames. Sarah Palin is rumored to be running in 2012.
Mitt Romney claims he isn't sure if he'll run for President in 2012, but he knows someone else that would do a "great" job: Sarah Palin.
During an interview on Tuesday night with Piers Morgan on CNN, the former GOP Massachusetts governor said Palin would bring a lot to the political table.
"I believe she is an extraordinarily powerful and effective voice in our party, that she has generated a great deal of support and attention, that she'd be great in a primary process," he said of the former vice-presidential nominee and Tea Party darling. "She'd bring attention to the process, and frankly, the more people we have on the stage in those debates talking about different ideas and different approaches, the better."
Romney has gone on a media blitz to discuss his new book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," making appearances on "Good Morning America," "Late Show with David Letterman" and "The View."
But the appearances have fueled speculation that Romney, who lost in the Republican primary in 2008 to Sen. John McCain, is considering running again in 2012.
When the CNN host asked whether Romney could beat Palin, he replied, "I don't know the answer to that." The 63-year-old said his wife is urging him to run.
"My wife thinks I should run," said Romney. "She's absolutely committed. She's saying, 'You've got to run, you've got to have somebody who understands the world of the economy, small business, who can create jobs.' She's convinced I've got to run. But I have to look more broadly and say, 'Alright, do I have a team necessary to do this?' "
According to a recent Rasmussen survey, Romney leads in a national poll, with 24% of likely GOP primary voters picking him as their presidential nominee. Palin came in second with 19%, followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabe (17%) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (11%).
Romney told Letterman he has no plans to run for President, but added "I'll keep the door open." He also gave a shout out to Palin.
"Be careful what you say about her," Romney joked. "She has a rifle, you know."
Cops conducted illegal and humiliating body cavity search on me, Bronx man claims in suitRocco Parascandola
Wednesday, February 2nd 2011, 4:00 AM
Florescu for NewsShawn Schenck claims a cop reached inside his jeans to perform a body cavity search.
A Bronx man wrongly accused of dealing drugs at a bodega is suing the city because cops conducted an illegal body cavity search, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Shawn Schenck, 47, said he walked into the Green Valley Deli and Pizza on Sept. 15 to buy a pack of cigarettes.
Five cops burst into the store and arrested Schenck and four other men. One of the cops dragged Schenck outside and slipped on a rubber glove, the suit - expected to be filed Wednesday - charges.
"Where's it at?" one of the officers reportedly asked. "Where's it at?"
The cop reached inside Schenck's jeans, felt around his testicles and then probed his anus, the suit claims.
"You're violating me!" Schenck recalled screaming. "You're violating me!"
The humiliating search happened in front of about 40 people, Schenck said. Police didn't have a search warrant, which is required for body cavity probes.
Cops denied the rectal search, saying cops only frisked him.
Police didn't find any drugs on Schenck after he was busted at 158th St. and Park Ave. Still, he was in custody for three hours.
Deputy Inspector Kim Royster, a police spokeswoman, said a supervisor reviewed surveillance footage from the bodega that proved the married Bronx father of two wasn't part of the drug crew. Schenck was then released, Royster said.
Schenck, who served time in the late 1990s for a drug conviction, said no one deserves such treatment.
"After what happened, people were looking at me sideways," he said. "People were cracking jokes for like two months. This thing gave me a whole bunch of anxiety."
The NYPD's Patrol Guide was revised in 2008 after the state Court of Appeals court ruled police must have a warrant to execute the invasive searches - barring an emergency. That case involved a Harlem drug suspect. The indictment against him was dismissed.
Police: Florida boy drops loaded handgun inside pre-kindergarten class
January 27, 2011
Florida police are trying to figure out how a 5-year-old boy came into possession of a loaded handgun that he dropped inside a pre-kindergarten class.
A female pre-kindergarten teacher at Moseley Elementary School in Palatka was giving a music lesson Tuesday morning when she noticed the small, .22-caliber handgun fall out of the boy's pocket, Assistant Police Chief James Griffith said. The firearm did not go off, and no one was hurt.
But the boy, along with the gun, were promptly brought to school administrators. They alerted school security and police at 9:25 a.m., having determined that there was no immediate danger to the school, which is in Palatka in northeastern Florida.
February 1, 2011 6:45 PM
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — They’re calling it the parcel puppy. A Minneapolis woman is charged with animal cruelty after police say she tried to send a puppy through the mail.
The poodle-mixed pup is being held temporarily at the animal control office in Minneapolis but still belongs to the woman who allegedly tried to mail it — 39-year-old Stacey Champion.
“Clearly there wasn’t a whole lot of thought that went into this,” said Sgt. Angela Dodge with the Minneapolis Police Department.
Dodge said last Tuesday Champion took the puppy to the Loring Post Office. The puppy was in a box with a priority sticker on it.
“A puppy is a definite no-no,” said Pete Nowacki with the U.S. Postal Service.
Postal workers didn’t know right away about the puppy inside, until the box fell off the counter.
“Apparently the puppy must have moved at that time and the box had shaken and fallen. At that point, the clerk and supervisor could hear a sound like panting coming from inside the box,” recalled Nowacki.
“They could hear it in the box, they opened the box and discovered a live puppy on there with no food or water,” said Dodge.
Champion did want the puppy to get there quickly because she mailed him 2-day priority. Officials say she was mailing the puppy as a present for a relative.
“The notion of putting a puppy in a box, putting them on a plane with no food, no water, no place to do their business, it’s not going to work,” said Nowacki.
The puppy is doing fine. Champion has until Friday to make an appeal to animal control to get the puppy back. If animal controls says she can’t have the puppy back, it will go up for adoption.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Sheila M. Poole and Craig Schneider
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
It seems that even houses of worship aren’t immune from foreclosure.
The wave that swept through metro Atlanta’s residential market, forcing thousands from their homes, has also swamped dozens of area churches.
More than 90 metro Atlanta churches were posted for prospective foreclosure from 2006 to 2010, according to a review by the Kennesaw-based real estate research firm Equity Depot for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. At the end of the day, roughly 50 of those churches were actually lost through foreclosure proceedings.
Of 113 churches currently listed for sale in metro Atlanta, at least 33 are foreclosures or churches in serious financial trouble, estimated Rick Arzet, an associate broker with Prudential Georgia Realty, who specializes in churches. Although that’s just a small fraction of the churches that dot the Atlanta landscape, the situation is the worst he’s seen in 40 years.
“Churches are the tail on the dog,” Arzet said . “The people in churches are the same people who are your neighbors,” he said -- the same people who are losing jobs and cutting back on spending and that includes donations to the collection plate.
Poor judgment and even ambition sometimes play a role, as well.
“This is one case where there are a lot of similarities between the secular world and the religious world," said Chris Macke, a senior real estate strategist for CoStar Group, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate services firm that monitors the phenomenon.
In some cases, pastors built larger churches at the peak of the economic cycle thinking that good times would continue indefinitely, he said. When they didn’t, or when projected population growth didn’t materialize, many churches were left with large loans and dwindling revenue.
Small churches, many of them with predominantly African-American congregations, dominate the foreclosure lists. But medium-sized congregations and even one megachurch with debts of more than $18 million show up, too.
An excess of optimism spelled trouble for Bible Baptist Church in Newnan, which was forced to leave a 51-acre campus that included a Christian school and three swimming pools. The church, which was growing rapidly, took on $3.8 million in debt in 2006 to improve its sewer system, parking, playground and gym.
When the economy tanked, many church members lost their jobs and offerings started going down, said Pastor Doug Anderson, who has led the church for 21 years. Church membership dwindled from 400 to about 100. The church now holds services in a shopping center.
“We certainly made mistakes,” Anderson said. “We just got too much debt … We probably tried to do too much too fast.”
Most of the services it supplied to the community have stopped. There is still a Christian school, but no athletics and no summer camp. There are no buses to go into the poor areas and pick up kids.
That's typical: When a church is forced to retrench, its outreach to the surrounding community often suffers. No longer can community members turn to the church for food, clothing, counseling and other support.
"You're not just losing property," said the Rev. Michael Wright, of Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, who said his office has fielded calls from about 45 churches in financial straits. "Back in the day, a lot of communities were built around the church. We're losing an information center, a community center and a centerpiece of the community."
Some groups are working to address the problem. At noon Thursday, agroup of Atlanta pastors and representatives from local financial institutions are scheduled to meet at Grace Community Christian Church in Kennesaw to examine ways to handle church foreclosures.
For more than a decade, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition has helped pastors around the nation navigate the financial side of church. To weather the financial storms, said Axel Adams of Rainbow PUSH, churches are cutting back on expenses, combining services and reducing staff. He called the situation in Georgia “fairly bad.”
“I think a lot of churches were really not prepared. We have pastors who read the Bible and interpret Scripture, but a lot were really not paying attention to what was going on economically,” he said.
Some lenders are willing to work with churches, others are not, Adams said. “Some lenders will go beyond the call to ensure that churches stay in business,” he said. “They see the importance of these institutions being in the community.”
Church in the Now, a Conyers megachurch led by James Swilley, watched its congregation explode in the late 1990s.
“I was under the impression it was time to take it to the next level,” Swilley said. “I hate to say we overbuilt, but we did.”
In 2003, he got a loan for about $18 million from Evangelical Christian Credit Union. But the church has been losing members, and money, since. Some of the problem was the recession, but Swilley said some members disagreed with his “very liberal” view of theology. Membership also took a dip after Swilley announced last October that he is gay.
Membership is down to 1,000 now. The 9 a.m. service Sunday, which draws about 100 people, meets in the lobby of the church, not in the 2,500-seat hall.
“It looks like in a few months, we might not be able to stay here,” Swilley said.
Just as it is for a family, foreclosure is traumatic for a congregation.
Last April, the Rev. Don Brealond was stunned when he arrived at his Word of Life Church International in Bartow County to find the locks changed and his belongings outside.
"It was really difficult emotionally," said Brealond. "Everything just fell apart."
The foreclosure ended several years of growth for his church, which had met in a local hotel, a shopping center and an office building before borrowing $600,000 to buy an existing church building.
Brealond said he was advised to borrow from a local private lender for a few months at a higher interest rate, then refinance with a bank. But the bank loan never materialized and soon, the church was falling behind in its payments.
"I got some bad advice," he said. "And I didn't have enough experience to know I was getting bad advice. ... How many pastors do you know who can pay the bills, run the business of the church and get out there and preach and teach and be available to the people?"
For a while he shared the building with another church, then he tried to rent it out for special events. The church now exists on paper only, he said.
Severe financial problems can set church members against one another.
Many members of Flat Rock Community Church near Lithonia say the church should never have taken the loan of $900,000 to build a new 300-seat sanctuary in 2005. But others point out that three major subdivisions were planned for the neighborhood, and the church wanted to grow along with it.
When the Great Recession hit and those subdivisions weren't built, the congregation divided over how to stay afloat. Some favored a merger with another church, others wanted to simply hand the deed back to the bank.
“It divided the church real bad,” said William Waits, 72, of Decatur, a longtime member.
A pastor was replaced. The chairman of the board of trustees resigned. The church staved off foreclosure late last year by declaring a bankruptcy, but recent court documents indicate that the bankruptcy has been dismissed.
“It has become a mess,” said Jamie Jenkins, an official with the North Georgia Conference of United Methodist Churches. “It’s an unfortunate mess. Nobody wins.”
Diddy on Barack Obama: 'He Owes Us'
Kirsten West Savali
Jan 31st 2011 6:39PM
Mr. "Take Dat" himself, Sean "Diddy" Combs, is upset with President Barack Obama, and he took his beef where most hip-hop artists do... straight to the Source.
In the January issue of "the hip-hop Bible," the entrepreneur extraordinaire claims that President Obama, in the infamous words of Kanye West, "doesn't care about black people."
"I love the president, like most of us. I just want the president to do better. There's a difference between us voting for somebody and us believing in somebody. He's the person that we believed in, so I pray night and day that he understands how God ordained his presidency. I feel there was a promise made to God to look after people that was less fortunate, and [many] of those people are African American."
Combs' bold 2004 "Vote or Die" campaign was revisited in the historic 2008 election with a more partisan mantra: "Obama or Die." The mogul's support and loyalty apparently makes him an authority on what the POTUS should do for the African American community.
"It's something he might not get reelected for, but we elected him," Diddy said. "He owes us. I'd rather have a black president that was man enough to say that he was doing something for black people than have a one-term president who played the politics game [to get re-elected]"
I cannot be the only one who finds Diddy's ire a tad hypocritical. While Obama is known to address the importance of family and takes African American men to task for their sometimes irresponsible behavior, Combs has five children, and has yet to marry, or otherwise show any visible respect for any of the three mothers. Yes, three mothers.
While our president has stressed education, and the importance of recognizing the "winner of the science fair, not just the Super Bowl," Combs' pool of talent gets younger and younger, and the "money, cash, ho*s" mentality seems to be drilled into them at Bad Boy boot camp.
While I agree that the president needs to grow a backbone and address the inequalities that the African American community faces with the same fire and conviction as he addresses the plight of the Hispanic/Latino community, in general he has passed more legislation to elevate the plight of all Americans than any executive in history.
It is true that Combs' philanthropic efforts are to be admired; however, he should put his mouth where his money is. Hip-hop has long been emulated by our youth, and the misogynist lyrics and hedonistic lifestyle poisoning their brains is just as much of a crime, if not more so, than another president without a "black agenda."
LINK TO STORY:
Lotto gal's hubby likely to get a cut: expert
SELIM ALGAR, REUVEN FENTON and DAN MANGAN
Last Updated: 10:53 AM, February 1, 2011
Posted: 2:40 AM, February 1, 2011
Cowering like a debtor cornered by creditors, debt-ridden ironworker Jamie Eisel yesterday skulked at the front door of the wife he dumped -- no doubt dreaming of the $8 million check that popped in her mailbox last week and the hefty piece of it he's likely to collect.
Eisel -- who was the subject of $8,000 worth of claims by three banks and the state, according to court records -- walked out on his waitress wife, Patricia, last year, months before she won the Lotto prize, friends said.
He's likely to reap an unexpected reward.
"She's going to be splitting that money," predicted Marilyn Chinitz, a top marital lawyer at Blank Rome in Manhattan.
HOUSE CALL: Jamie Eisel skulks yesterday outside the Long Island home of his estranged wife, Patricia, whose $8 million Lotto win was reported in The Post.
"I think it's a matter of how much."
That's because when the couple separated after nearly 13 years of marriage, she didn't bother to get a divorce -- or even file for divorce.
"Generally, monies that are from the lottery are deemed to be marital monies," Chinitz said. "It's subject to equitable distribution in New York."
Their relatively brief separation -- along with the possibility that Jamie has continued providing financial support to Patricia, 40, and their three young boys -- might lead a judge to award him close to half of the $8 million, Chinitz said.
The only way Patricia could keep all the money, said the lawyer, who's not representing either party, is if she could prove the Lotto ticket was bought with money exempt from the joint marital assets, such as an inheritance.
Despite that apparent good news, Jamie looked decidedly dour as he picked up his mail at the Long Beach, LI, home he had formerly shared with Patricia.
Jaime, who had been married before, declined to tell a Post reporter whether he planned on going after her windfall.
Between November 2009 and March 2010, four judgments against him were recorded in Nassau County Supreme Court. The debts, owed to two banks and the state, totaled slightly more than $8,200. It was not immediately clear if he paid off any or all of it.
Meanwhile, Patricia, who had been struggling to make ends meet by working in a local bar, has been in her native Ireland since collecting her Lotto check in New York last Thursday.
She hasn't been wearing her wedding ring.
Patricia's mood has been much improved since learning that the $8 she dropped on lottery tickets on Jan. 5 paid off with a $21.5 million winner -- which entitled her to an $8 million lump-sum payment after taxes.
"I knew on Jan. 6. I got nervous," she said in Ireland, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
"I didn't want any attention on my kids, and I wanted to think.
"The don't know what is going on, they just know Mammy is going home," she said. "I can't wait to go back and see them."
Additional reporting by C.J. Sullivan
Brian Bennett, Washington Bureau
February 1, 2011
Reporting from Washington
Battling the widespread perception that U.S. border cities have become more dangerous, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday called on public officials to stop exaggerating the violence on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico and "be honest with the people we serve."
In a speech in El Paso, Napolitano cited FBI statistics showing that violent crime rates in Southwest border counties are down 30% over the last two decades and are "among the lowest in the nation."
Napolitano's effort to change the public perception of danger follows a heated campaign season last fall that saw candidates in border states frequently emphasizing the effects of illegal immigration on their communities.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, was criticized during the campaign for saying that headless bodies were being found in the Arizona desert, a statement she retracted after local coroners could not confirm her claim.
A few mayors in the region recently have said that the portrayal of their towns as dangerous has hurt them economically.
"Let's stick with the facts," Napolitano said. "We need to be up front and clear about what's really happening along our borders."
Even as the drug war has escalated just south of the border, crime rates in Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat, said Napolitano, citing the addition of personnel and technology in the region.
She added that the number of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border — an indication of illegal cross-border traffic — has decreased 36% over the last two years.
But Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer, said: "The issue is there are tens of thousands of people being murdered immediately across the border in Mexico by the cartels. And the concern is that the violence by the cartels will begin spilling across the border."
For Arizona cattle ranchers, the day-to-day reality of drug and people smugglers traversing their property is "far more impacting" than Napolitano's comments indicate, said Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.).
"Statistics and averages might mean something to government bureaucrats and analysts in Washington, but try telling the people who deal with these realities every day that the violence along the border has subsided," said Quayle, who won his congressional seat in the Republican surge in November.
Angela Kelley, an immigration policy expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington, argued that there was a "pretty big disconnect" between the public perception about safety along the border and what the statistics showed.
"When you have politicians stirring the pot and turning up the heat on people's emotions and fear levels, you don't have a constructive debate on what to do," she said.
But she added: "Facts matter, but only to a point … because it is what citizens believe that defines the debate and sets the agenda in Washington. We can't be tone deaf to what the public believes."
Since 2004, the Border Patrol has doubled in size to more than 20,700 agents. Napolitano added that the Department of Homeland Security had increased the number of intelligence analysts focused on cartel violence.
With the help of a $600-million infusion of cash approved by Congress in 2010, the department will add 1,000 Border Patrol agents this year, 250 officers at ports of entry and 250 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Napolitano said.
The increase comes as 1,200 National Guard troops that President Obama deployed to the border last year plan to stand down by the end of the summer.
Mubarak: I will not run in next presidential elections
LINK TO PHOTOS OF CHILDREN:
Egypt protests: Did Jimmy Carter just throw Obama under the bus?
Christian Science Monitor
January 31, 2011
Former President Jimmy Carter said Sunday what many experts are thinking: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must go. But President Obama has shied away from making such a statement, even as the Egypt protests escalate, leading to some criticism.
Commenting on the week’s tumultuous events in Egypt from the Maranatha Baptist Church near his home in Plains, Ga., the former president who brokered the 1979 peace accord between Egypt and Israel gave a candid personal assessment of Egypt’s embattled leader and said his “guess is Mubarak will have to go.”
President Mubarak has “become more politically corrupt” in recent years and has “perpetuated himself in office,” he told a Sunday school class of 300, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Assessing the popular uprisings sweeping across the region, he said: “This is the most profound situation in the Middle East since I left office” more than 30 years ago.
Mr. Carter’s remarks put him out ahead of the Obama administration, which has inched carefully forward as it has responded to the massive demonstrations engulfing the regime of a longtime US ally.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took the step of calling for an “orderly transition” in Egypt. That seemed to be a few degrees closer to abandoning Mubarak than President Obama’s comments of Friday, which had focused on the urgency of meaningful reforms and the need for the regime to avoid repressive violence.
None of that had apparently impressed Carter, who endorsed Mr. Obama in 2008 but has not shied away from openly criticizing US foreign policy when the spirit has moved him. “The United States wants Mubarak to stay in power,” Carter told his Sunday school class, “but the people have decided.”
Carter’s comments were seized upon by conservative critics of Obama’s foreign policy, though hardly in a uniform manner. Indeed, reactions reflected a split in Republican and right-wing foreign-policy visions between a neoconservative pro-freedom camp, and advocates first and foremost of a firm, even hawkish foreign policy based more on military might than on diplomatic engagement.
Some conservative commentators said that even Carter was shaming Obama by sounding more supportive of Egyptians’ freedoms than his fellow Democratic president.
But more common was an equating of Obama’s foreign policy with that of Carter – who, after all, is generally considered in Republican circles to be the country’s weakest recent president, and the man who lost Iran. A sampling of editorial and commentary headlines: Obama Channeling Jimmy Carter (Washington Times); Carter Redux? (American Thinker), and More Carter Redux in the Middle East (the Heritage Foundation).
A common theme in these writings: Carter favored “soft power” and talking with enemies over confronting them, and so does Obama. Less universal but still a strong vein of opinion: Carter abandoned the Shah of Iran and gave us the Ayatollah Khomeini, Obama is pulling the plug on Mubarak and could be ushering in the Muslim Brotherhood.
Despite the cacophony of reactions to the man from Plains, one conclusion seemed to apply across the board: Jimmy Carter can still cause an uproar, even from a Sunday school in Georgia.
Mother, son, two other teens remain jailed on armed robbery charge
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gwinnett County News 11:59 a.m. Monday, January 31, 2011
Three DeKalb County teenagers and the mother of one of them remained in the Gwinnett County jail Monday on charges of robbing a bank and then leading police on a high-speed chase.
Around 9 a.m. Friday, Tawander Simmons, 35, of Stone Mountain and two teenagers held up a Wells Fargo Bank in the 5500 block of Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn while the third teen waited in the car, police said.
It's not clear how the three teens came to be with Simmons because there are conflicting accounts.
According to Lilburn Police spokesman Bruce Hedley, Simmons picked up her son, Benny Brice, 17, and the two other boys, at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain. But school police reported that only Brice came to the school and he decided to leave because the other two had skipped. DeKalb school officials later said none of the teenagers came to school Friday.
All versions of the story agreed that the mother had the handgun used in the robbery.
Lilburn police began chase within minutes after a witness described the getaway car as a red Toyota Corolla, with two cruisers chasing the the Corolla at speeds up to 90 mph down U.S. Highway 78 onto southbound I-285. The Toyota exited at East Ponce de Leon Avenue near Clarkston and tried to turn right without slowing. The Corolla ran into an embankment and then into railroad tracks, Hedley said.
"No innocent bystanders were injured," Hedley said. "We were very lucky."
Police arrested Simmons and her son, along with Glenn Broom, 18, and David Rawlins, 17, both of Lithonia. All four are charged with armed robbery.
Broom's father, also named Glenn, learned of his son's arrest by reading ajc.com Friday afternoon. He spoke briefly with a reporter on the phone, while a woman cried in the background.
Broom said his son was friends with Brice but he said he didn't know how Simmons picked him up Friday morning. "I'm trying to find out right now," he said. "I'm just without words. ... My son is a good kid."
LINK TO PHOTO OF MOTHER AND THREE TEENAGERS INVOLVED:
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