Minnesota dad who abandoned young son with a note arrested in California
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, August 30th 2011, 8:35 PM
A Minnesota man who abandoned his 11-year-old son in July has been arrested in California - more than a month after he left his son with only a note.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that cops stopped Steven Cross' Ford van Monday night after getting a tip that he was working at a deli in the area.
"He was identified and taken into custody," a police spokesman told the paper.
Cross, 60, made national headlines he left his son Sebastian a note on July 18 saying he wouldn't be coming back.
"If this paper is wet it's because I am crying so bad," he wrote in the letter, the Star-Tribune said. "You know your dad loves you more than anything. This economy got there are no jobs for architects so I have to go because the sheriff will take the house July 27th.
"There will be no more me. ... Some good news is your mother is still alive. Though I do not think it is for the best. Give these letters to . Do not open them. I hope they get to give you a chance. There are many great years ahead for you. No so for me."
The heartbroken 11-year-old, who had been raised by his father for the past decade, was placed with an aunt.
He told authorities his father had not been acting any differently the night before he disappeared, The Associated Press reported.
A warrant was issued for Cross' arrest on child neglect charges.
Police said Cross seemed to be living out of his van and they believed he was heading to work when he was stopped.
Authorities are still searching for Sebastian's mother, the paper reported. Steven Cross previously told his son his mother was dead because he thought she was a bad role model.
She received visitation rights in 2001, but after not exercising them, they were suspended in 2002, AP reported.
Cross was reportedly nearly $35,000 in debt when he took off.
Obama kin arrested on DUI charge:
Dartmouth chemistry student busted for running meth lab out of apartment
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, August 30th 2011, 3:44 PM
A Belgian graduate student at Dartmouth College had a double major - he was taking classes in chemistry and running a meth lab out of his apartment, police said.
Randy Lambreghts, 28, was busted Sunday after cops responded to a medical emergency at his Hanover, N.H. pad and found evidence the Belgian brainiac was cooking crank, police said.
Lambreghts' roommate called authorities because he feared for the Belgian's mental and physical health, Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone Jr. told the Daily News.
Campus cops rolled up to Lambreghts' pad at 3 School St., a building that houses about a dozen grad students and is on the same street as several undergraduate residences.
After spotting evidence that led cops to suspect a mini drug factory was being run out of the apartment, campus cops called the town police, who called in firefighters and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Giaccone said.
Firefighters evacuated the building and handled hazardous materials inside Lambreghts' place. Lambreghts was asked to take a shower at the apartment to decontaminate himself and then taken to a hospital for an evaluation.
After the DEA got a search warrant, a field team searched the pad, collected evidence suspected of being related to making meth, and sent it to a lab; it is still being analyzed, Giaccone said.
Lambreghts was charged Tuesday with one count of attempted manufacture of methamphetamine/amphetamine, Giaccone said. He was being held on $20,000 bail.
Lambreghts lives with two other people, but they are not expected to be charged, Giaccone added.
Lambreghts, who had been studying at the Ivy League school for about seven years, received a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's in biochemistry from the University of Ghent, in Belgium, according to a Dartmouth website.
The site said he enjoys travelling and planned "to see all of South America after graduation."
Under New Hampshire law, manufacturing meth is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $300,000 fine, the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper reported.
White House blasts GOP over FEMA funding
1:25 PM PDT, August 30, 2011
The White House accused congressional Republicans of holding additional federal disaster aid hostage to steep budget cuts, saying the country needs to put politics aside in the wake of Hurricane Irene and provide for Americans in need.
GOP leaders say they want new money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster fund to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, an unprecedented approach to disaster aid that is creating a political stalemate as FEMA is about to run out of money.
"When we have a national -- a natural disaster and an emergency situation in, in this case, a significant stretch of the country, our priority has to be with -- has to be responding to the disaster and then helping those regions and states recover," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
"I wish that commitment to looking for offsets had been held by the House majority leader and others, say, during the previous administration, when they ran up unprecedented bills and not paid -- and never paid for them," he added.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, has been steadfast about offsetting disaster funds. His office shot back Tuesday that in the face of the nation's $14-trillion debt load, the GOP approach was "the right thing to do."
"People and families coping with these natural disasters will certainly get what they need from the federal government, but the goal should be to find ways to pay for what is needed when possible," Cantor's office said in a memo.
Congress has hit an impasse over disaster funds as FEMA could run out of money within the month. Already, FEMA has prioritized its remaining resources -- using the money for immediate food, shelter and debris-removal assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irene but putting rebuilding projects on hold.
The GOP-led House approved $3.6 billion in FEMA funding, but the legislation has stalled in the Senate, where Democrats oppose the cuts to other programs.
Southern California -- this just in
$10-million bail set for man who allegedly held worker in a box
Robert Yachen Lee appeared briefly in Superior Court in Alhambra on Friday afternoon.
Lee allegedly lured the employee to a storage room above O My Yogurt on South Atlantic Boulevard early Wednesday, knocked her unconscious and then -- after removing her clothing and dressing her in an adult diaper -- placed her in a box, authorities said.
The victim told authorities that when she came to, she was bound with tape and had a collar around her neck.
Prosecutors believe Lee planned the kidnapping because the storage room had recently been soundproofed.
The woman was able to free herself and escape to a nearby optometrist's office, where she alerted police.
Glenn Beck, ex-Fox News host: Hurricane Irene is a 'blessing' from God
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, August 27th 2011, 11:46 AM
Beck argued on his show that the events would teach people to be prepared for natural disasters. He told his audience that for years he has been urging Americans to stockpile supplies for the inevitable "global disruption in food."
"How many warnings do you think you're going to get and how many warnings do you deserve? This hurricane that is coming thorough in the East Coast, for anyone who's in the East Coast and has been listening to me say 'Food storage!' 'Be prepared!' 'Be somebody that can help others,' you've heard me say this for years," the ex-Fox News host said Friday.
He continued, "People have made fun of me. That's fine, I don't care. I've been telling you, 'Don't be in a panic situation.' If you've waited, this hurricane is a blessing. It is a blessing. It is God reminding you - as was the earthquake last week - it's God reminding you you're not in control. Things can happen. Be prepared and be someone who can help others so when disaster strikes, God forbid, you're not panicking."
Hurricane Irene hit land on the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday in North Carolina with winds topping 90 mph.
Further north, authorities readied a massive shutdown of trains and airports with 2 million people ordered to evacuate.
With News Wire Services
4:33 p.m. Friday, August 26, 2011
Thief using fake ID to raid cop's bank account
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Fayetteville police are on the lookout for a well-dressed suspect who is using a bogus identification to raid a police officer’s bank account.
The Florida driver’s license he presented matched information on the account so the transaction was completed.
The account, however, actually belonged to a Florida law enforcement officer. The suspect, believed to be 45 to 50 years old, has been able to withdraw money from the officer’s account at other bank branches in metro Atlanta, according to Fayetteville Detective Mike Whitlow.
The detective said the use of withdrawal slips is a “a different twist” on a well-known fraud. Thieves usually try to cash counterfeit checks, Whitlow said.
To get the bank to approve the withdrawal, the suspect places his photo on a doctored driver’s license that has identifying information matching a victim’s bank account. Accounts at banks other than SunTrust also have been targeted, he said.
Whitlow doesn't think the Florida officer was targeted on purpose.
"It just happened to be his turn," the detective said.
Texas man gets 99 years for cattle rustling
Updated 04:51 p.m., Thursday, August 25, 2011
This undated handout photo provided by the Hardeman County Sheriff's Office, Texas, shows Carl Wade Curry. Curry who was previously convicted in a cattle rustling case and is facing charges in others, has been sentenced to 99 years in prison for stealing bovines from a Mississippi rancher. Photo: Hardeman County Sheriff's Office / AP
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — An East Texas man with a prolific cattle rustling history spanning more than a decade has been sentenced to 99 years in prison for swindling bovines from a Mississippi rancher.
Carl Wade Curry, 44 from Athens was accused of stealing 400 head of cattle worth more than $200,000 last year.
District Attorney Staley Heatly says Curry placed an order with a Mississippi man using a fake name and cattle company in Vernon, where the owner shipped the cattle. The owner contacted authorities when he didn't receive payment.
A jury in Hardeman County took less than 30 minutes to both convict and sentence Curry on Wednesday evening. In the deal Curry used the name Earnest Jackson.
"He was going to mail me a check and he didn't," rancher David Sanders of Starkville, Miss., said. "Then he was going to Federal Express it to me. Didn't happen."
Sanders had already shipped the cattle to a non-existent address in Hardeman County. When Sanders didn't get paid he called the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. A special ranger with the association located the animals before they were sold.
"They really put their noses to the grindstone and got this guy good," Sanders said.
Testimony at Curry's trial revealed he had stolen 2,097 head of cattle worth nearly $1 million since 2007, Heatly said.
Curry represented himself at the trial but had stand-by counsel by John Weigel, who did not return a call for comment Thursday.
In April, Curry was sentenced to 20 years in a cattle rustling case in Smith County in East Texas and faces more charges there and in Louisiana, Hardeman County District Attorney Staley Heatly said Thursday.
"He is definitely" a serial cattle rustler, Heatly said. "Going back to the late 90s when he was convicted of bank fraud."
That case involved banks, feedlot owners and ranchers, Heatly said.
In a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Lubbock in 2000, Curry was ordered to pay restitution of $730,000, Heatly said. He served 18 months in prison and was released from probation of five years in September 2006 — still owing $680,000 in restitution.
It didn't take long for Curry to return to his old ways, Heatly said.
"All these started in '07," he said of the two charges for which he's already been convicted on and the pending cases.
One of his victims in the federal case, Jason Forester of 4F Cattle Co. in the East Texas town of Larue, said Curry wrote hot checks totaling about $94,000 for cattle he bought. The two men lived near one another growing up, and went to high school and college together.
Curry wanted to smooth talk people but lacked the skill, Forester said, who works in an industry where trust is currency and deals are sometimes sealed by handshakes.
"I always knew he wanted to be a big shot," he said. "And he wasn't capable. He thought he was capable but he wasn't. He's right where he needs to be now."
Sanders said the thefts were "mighty alarming," but he feels fortunate.
"I feel for the victims that didn't get anything," he said.
Lawsuit accuses Gretna cop of Tasering 7-year-old boy during traffic stop
Published: Monday, August 22, 2011, 4:53 PM
Updated: Monday, August 22, 2011, 4:55 PM
A Gretna police officer accused in a lawsuit this month of unleashing his canine on a suspect whose penis was nearly severed has been accused in another lawsuit of injuring a 7-year-old boy with his Taser, a shock intended for the boy's father who says he wrongly arrested during a traffic stop. Officer Joseph Mekdessie, Chief Arthur Lawson, the Gretna Police Department and the City of Gretna are named in the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans by attorneys for Marlon Bordelon Sr., and his son Marlon Bordelon Jr., who seek $325,000 in damages in the May 21 incident.
Lawson said Monday he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment, but he knew of no instances in which a child was hit with a Taser.
The Bordelons were "traveling home" when Mekdessie conducted a traffic stop and allegedly shined his flashlight in the boy's face, leading the father to question why the officer was doing it, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Edwin Shorty Jr. The officer then asked the elder Bordelon for his license and registration, and asked him to get out of the car.
The father twice asked why he was being ordered out of the car and refused to get out, "prompting Officer Mekdessie to say, 'Don't get tased in front of your son.'"
"Mr. Bordelon then asked the officer, 'So you're just gonna tase me in front of my son?'" and again refused to get out of his car, according to the lawsuit.
When the father told his son to call his mother, Mekdessie fired his Taser, striking the man and his son. Mekdessie fired the Taser a second time at the man, causing him to fall out of the car and onto the ground, where the officer placed a stun gun to the man's neck and shocked him before putting him in handcuffs and dragging him and punched in the neck and face, according to the lawsuit.
Marlon Bordelon Jr. was taken to Children's Hospital, where a burn mark on his leg caused by the Taser was noted, according to the lawsuit. After he was released from jail on charges of battery on a police officer and traffic offenses, Bordelon Sr., was treated for a black eye and first-degree burns, according to the lawsuit.
Mekdessie "mislabeled" Bordelon's "involuntary gestations," caused by his being shocked, Bordelon alleges. Bordelon says he did nothing wrong, but that Mekdessie "sought to falsely prosecute ... and to concoct a false story against him."
The lawsuit accused Lawson and the police department of not properly training officers to use Tasers and approve their use even when there is no threat to the officer.
Mekdessie,Lawson, Officer Roland Kindell and the police department were sued Aug. 9, by Cody Melancon of Gretna, who alleges his constitutional rights were violated May 31, when Mekdessie, Kindell and other officers went to his apartment to arrest him on a warrant.
Melancon admits he initially tried to hide from the officers. But he said he surrendered, and despite complying, Mekdessie allegedly released his police canine, Zin, without cause. The dog bit at Melancon's groin area, causing extensive damage and leaving him sexually dysfunctional. Melancon seeks $31 million in damages.
Penis injury from Gretna police dog attack was unjustified, man alleges in lawsuit
Published: Tuesday, August 09, 2011, 6:15 PM
Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 9:34 AM
A 25-year-old man sued the Gretna Police Department Tuesday, alleging his civil rights were violated by a police officer who sicced his canine on him without provocation, leading the dog to bite into his groin area and virtually sever his penis.
Cody Melancon, of Gretna, said Tuesday the attack left him sexually dysfunctional. A doctor has recommended sexual enhancement pills and he faces neurosurgery in hopes of restoring the use of his penis, which was almost completely severed by the police dog's bites.
"I don't have any sensation down there," Melancon said. "I can't get an erection. I'm 25 years of age."
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, names the police department, Chief Arthur Lawson, Officer Joseph Mekdessie and Officer Roland Kindell, in their official and individual capacities. It alleges the police falsified reports to cover up their actions and violated Melancon's constitutional rights to due process and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Melancon seeks a jury trial and $31 million for medical and other expenses and for punitive damages.
Melancon's attorney Roger Kitchens said his client also filed a complaint with Gretna police's public integrity bureau and has contacted the FBI.
Lawson did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
The lawsuit stems from a May 30 incident, when Gretna police went to his Monroe Street apartment in the shadow of the Crescent City Connection to arrest Melancon on charges he kicked in someone's front door and hit an occupant - charges he refutes. While he admits he initially tried to hide in the apartment from the officers, he surrendered upon hearing a cop threatened to release the dog inside.
As he knelt on the ceramic tile floor of his small living room and locked his fingers behind his head, Melancon said Mekdessie trumped up an altercation and let his dog, Zin, go.
"He started saying, 'Stop fighting with my dog,' and he released the dog on me," Melancon said Tuesday in his apartment, feet away from where he said the attack occurred. Zin went straight for his groin, and instead of commanding the dog to stop, Mekdessie tried to pull the dog away, causing it to bite more.
"I was in so much shock and pain," he said. "I couldn't do anything. I was just in total shock."
Melancon "sustained severe and debilitating injuries as a result of the actions of (the) defendants, including but not limited to severe mental anguish, loss of sexual function, severe nerve damage, loss of feeling in the genital region, a partially severed penis, tears to his scrotum, a urethra tear and loss of enjoyment of life and consortium, all of which require future medical care," Kitchens wrote.
Zin allegedly has bitten other people "unnecessarily and excessively," and Lawson allegedly did nothing, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Mekdessie and Kindell "harassed" Melancon days before the incident outside a nightclub in Gretna, in which Kindell, Mekdessie and Zin conducted an illegal search of his car. Finding nothing, the officers allegedly claimed Melancon's truck radio was too loud and issued a citation to justify their search. Words were exchanged, and Melancon went home, the suit says.
Days later, according to the lawsuit, Kindell and Mekdessie learned of a warrant for Melancon's arrest and volunteered to help bring him in. They announced their presence outside Melancon's door. Melancon's fiancée, Ashley Braxton, and their two daughters were present during the arrest. Braxton lied to the officers when she told them Melancon was not there, according to a police report.
Officers said Melancon "refused to follow the K-9 officer's commands," and Zin bit him "in the genital area." Mekdessie, in another report, wrote he heard movement in back of the apartment "as if someone was trying to escape," and then released Zin, who located Melancon "running from the back bedroom toward the back of the apartment, at which time Zin bit the subject in the groin area."
Kitchens says the report is wrong, that Melancon's apartment didn't have a rear door or windows, so he had nowhere to run.
Gretna police emergency medical technicians who were on the scene gave Melancon morphine and transported him to a hospital, where his penis was reattached before he later was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center with resisting arrest and other charges.
Kitchens alleged Mekdessie visited Melancon in jail. "He was calling Cody 'nuts,' and saying 'Yeah, that's my handiwork,'" Kitchens said.
The Jefferson Parish district attorney's office, meanwhile, has charged Melancon with simple battery, resisting arrest, aggravated burglary and obstruction of justice. Braxton has been charged with accessory to aggravated burglary, according to records in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
Lufkin woman accused of posing as lawyer at McDonalds
Lufkin Police have arrested a woman accused of posing as a lawyer to help get someone out of prison.
Kimberly Raven Giacone, also known as Kimberly Raven Foley, 30, of Lufkin, is charged with falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer, a third-degree felony.
According an arrest warrant affidavit, the investigation began on June 21 when a woman met with a police officer and said she met Giacone at McDonalds. Giacone said she was an attorney and accepted $36 to help the woman get her son transferred out of the state prison system and into Rusk State Hospital, so that he could get a psychiatric evaluation.
Giacone accepted the money to start the paperwork, according to the affidavit.
Giacone contacted the woman by phone and said she has sent some paperwork to the Rusk facility, then asked if she could come to her residence to review it, according to the affidavit.
Giacone arrived at the home and handed the woman a cover letter that she said was sent to the prison system. The letterhead read "Giacone Law" and gave an address of 101 E. Lufkin Ave., Lufkin, Texas 75901.
The letter stated that the woman's son was to be transferred to the Rusk facility, and was signed "Raven Giacone, Attorney at Law," according to the affidavit.
Giacone gave the letter to the woman and asked for an additional $300 to complete the legal process, which the woman complied, according to the affidavit.
The woman later found Giacone was not an attorney after talking with a real attorney in Nacogdoches. The woman contacted Giacone and Giacone came to her home and returned the legal letters and the $336 and asked her not to contact police.
The woman contacted police anyway, and a detective called Giacone, who admitted to taking money for typing and admitted to inquiring about renting office space for paralegal work, according to the report. Giacone said she was not a paralegal but wanted to be one.
Police obtained a warrant for her arrest on Aug. 2 and she was booked into the Angelina County Jail on Wednesday. She bailed out the same day for $2,500.
Giacone has two previous theft convictions on her record. Her nickname is "Sugar Bear," according Angelina County Jail records.
1:00 p.m. Thursday, August 25, 2011
Hall County pet sitter charged in $400K jewelry heist
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A 48-year-old Clermont woman is in the Hall County Jail, charged with stealing $400,000 in jewelry from a household where she had been helping to care for its pets, authorities said.
The investigation began Aug. 12 when sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported burglary at a home on Mountain Meadow Drive in Clermont.
“(Waddell) was initially named as a person of interest by the victim because she had access to the house. She was reportedly helping care for pets while the victim was away for a few days,” Wilbanks said.
“During the course of the investigation, she was interviewed and was connected to the theft,” he said.
Deputies arrested Waddell on Aug. 16. They recovered the missing jewelry and returned it to its owner.
2:04 p.m. Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Woman caught breaking into cars after release from jail
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
After posting $1,500 bond following her arrest for fighting, Gabrielle Begay was a free woman.
Within an hour of being released from the Douglas County jail last Friday, Begay, 21, was right back where she started. She was caught trying to break into vehicles in the jail parking lot, Chief Deputy Stan Copeland with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said.
Begay also went across the street to J & T Tire and Hudson's Hickory House, where the owner spotted her trying to break into his vehicle, Copeland said. The owner walked to the sheriff's office to file a report.
"While he was in the lobby talking to one of our offices, another lady overheard and looked into parking lot of the sheriff's office," Copeland said. "She saw Begay trying to break into her car and told a deputy."
Begay was re-arrested, this time on entering an auto and criminal trespass charges, Copeland said. Her bond was set at $14,000, and so far, she's been unable to come up with the money, he said. Begay remained in jail Wednesday afternoon.
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FBI nabs convicted robber 36 years after he escaped from prison -- because he called his mom
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, August 23rd 2011, 12:53 PM
The FBI nabbed a convicted killer 36 years after he skipped out of jail, thanks to a call he made to his dying mother in 2005, the FBI said.
William Walter Asher 3rd was arrested Friday at his California home after investigators used phone records to find the 66-year-old murderer who's been on the lam since 1975.
"After 36 years of looking over his shoulder, William Walter Asher 3rd ... is finally back where he belongs -- in prison," the FBI said in a press release.
Asher was sentenced to life in prison in 1967 for a murder in which he and three accomplices robbed a San Francisco bar and beat the bartender to death.
Eight years into his sentence, he escaped from a minimum security inmate fire camp in El Dorado County with the help of a female accomplice, the California Department of Corrections said.
While on the run, Asher worked as a truck driver in Canada, married a woman and separated before coming back to California.
Back in the U.S., he worked as a truck driver under a different name and for 10 years had been living with another woman - who had no idea he was a fugitive.
The break, authorities said, came after a source told them Asher had called his dying mother in 2005.
"According to source information, shortly before (the mother's) death, she asked various family members to assist her in using the 'secret' number to call 'Billy,'" the FBI said.
That was enough to put authorities back on the felon's trail.
Agents scoured phone records of people who may have helped and found two calls made to a home in Salida, Calif., to a man named Garry Donald Webb two days before Asher's mother died, CNN reported.
They staked out the house and eventually nabbed their man.
"Although the trail went cold over the years, investigators never gave up their hunt for Asher and recently got the break they needed," the FBI said.
The dog ate my diamonds... Really!
Posted: Aug 22, 2011 4:20 PM EDT Updated: Aug 22, 2011 4:36 PM EDT
ALBANY, GA -
$10,000 worth of diamonds disappeared from a Georgia jewelry store, but they didn't have to go far to find them again. They quickly figured out it was an inside job, and recovered the jewels the next day.
In fact, they didn't even have to call police.
John Ross Jewelers is well-known in town for their four footed mascots. Tiffany and Velvet roamed the shop for years, and appeared in commercials. After their passing, Honey Bun now greets customers and as Chuck and Ann Roberts found out their new pup has expensive taste.
Honey Bun's not much of a guard dog, but is great on customer relations. "He's been loved," says Co-owner Chuck.
Customers sometimes hide treats in their purses for Honey Bun, but the Roberts' recently learned this pampered pooch has more expensive taste. It happened two weeks ago when a customer came in.
"A customer came in, and I jumped up out of my chair and came out here to wait on him, and I left the chair where he could jump up on my chair, and jump up on my desk," said Roberts.
On the desk four packs of loose diamonds, about a carat each to set in diamond earrings, pens, and dog treats. When he returned only three packs remained, and an empty pouch like this one was lying on the floor.
"We looked all over and there weren't any diamonds, so immediately I knew he'd eaten them."
Since Honey Bun wasn't talking, there was only one way to find out.
"She came down and took him across the street and we ran X-rays."
Carbon doesn't show up on an X-ray, but two blank spots confirmed Honey Bun was a likely suspect. It only took a day, and they found another surprise.
"The next afternoon sure enough the earring back and two diamonds were recovered, no panic."
Honey Bun was guilty as charged, but this pooch was granted a reprieve.
"I haven't scolded him to this day and I won't. Why not? It's my fault for leaving the chair there, that's why," said Roberts.
It's taught Roberts a valuable lesson. He's now very cautious about where he leaves his desk chair and they're keeping a closer eye on Honey Bun especially around the precious gems.
Incidentally, the diamonds Honey Bun chose to eat, weren't the best pair. If they were, Chuck Roberts said they'd be in the display case now. They were cleaned up and sent back to the supplier.
Honey Bun also got a clean bill of health and doesn't appear to be phased by the incident.
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8:26 p.m. Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Rev. Al Sharpton officially tapped as MSNBC host
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — After several weeks in a tryout role, the Rev. Al Sharpton has officially been named host of a weeknight hour on MSNBC.
In his new role, the well-known civil rights activist and minister will lead a lively and informed discussion of the day's top headlines, MSNBC said.
Sharpton called the hosting job "a natural extension of my life work and growth."
Besides his work as a community leader and religious figure, Sharpton already hosts a nationally syndicated radio show. He was a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination that eventually went to U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
The 6 p.m. hour serves as an important lead-in to MSNBC's weeknight slate that includes Chris Matthews, Laurence O'Donnell, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz. The network has done a swift reconfiguration in prime time since the abrupt departure of its marquee host, Keith Olbermann, in January. Olbermann took his show to Current TV.
In addition to being a guest on MSNBC throughout the network's history, Sharpton has also served as an occasional guest host on several of its programs.
"I've known Rev. Sharpton for over a decade and have tremendous respect for him," said MSNBC president Phil Griffin. "I'm thrilled that he's now reached a point in his career where he's able to devote himself to hosting a nightly show."
Earlier this month, Griffin dismissed the notion that the possible hiring of Sharpton might represent a conflict of interest for the cable channel.
"He's been on MSNBC for all 15 years," MSNBC President Phil Griffin said at the time, noting Sharpton's long track record with the network.
Sharpton last year had weighed in on behalf of the Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. as the government scrutinized the company's ultimately successful takeover of NBCUniversal. Sharpton, the head of the National Action Network civil rights group, was among minority representatives approached by Comcast executives for support. MSNBC is part of NBCUniversal.
Two intruders caught sleeping in caskets at Weaver's Funeral Home
This morning at 10:30 a.m. officers were dispatched to Weaver’s Funeral Home on a report of intruders inside the building.
Workers in the casket storage facility discovered two males asleep in caskets while they were working in the building.
When the employees told the intruders that they were calling the police they fled the area by jumping out a window. One of the subjects managed to escape. The other, Barrett Lance Hartsock, was caught and arrested.
Hartsock was charged with burglary and vandalism over $1,000.
The second intruder described as a white male, last seen in the area of Cherry St. At that time was shirtless. His name may be Lars and he may go by the nickname Sparks or Sparky.
There was more than $9,000 in damage done to the caskets the two were sleeping in.
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Virginia is felt in Maryland.
It happened around 1:50 p.m.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. The quake was in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County.
Other people reported feeling moderate shaking in Odenton, Anne Arundel County, and Washington, D.C, as well as North Carolina, New York and Rhode Island.
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|Tuesday, 23 August 2011|
Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old woman from Germany, gave up using money 15 years ago and says she’s been much happier ever since.
Heidemarie’s incredible story began 22 years ago, when she, a middle-aged secondary school teacher emerging from a difficult marriage, took her two children and moved to the city of Dortmund, in Germany’s Ruhr area. One of the first things she noticed was the large number of homeless people, and this shocked her so much that she decided to actually do something about it. She had always believed the homeless didn’t need actual money to be accepted back into society, only a chance to empower themselves by making themselves useful, so she opened a Tauschring (swap shop), called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take).
Her small venture was a place where anyone could trade stuff and skills for other things and skills they needed, without a single coin or banknote changing hands. Old clothes could be traded in return for kitchen appliances, and car service rendered in return for plumbing services, and so on. The idea didn’t really attract many of Dortmund’s homeless, because, as some of them told her to her face, they didn’t feel an educated middle-class woman could relate to their situation. Instead, her small shop was assaulted by many of the city’s unemployed and retired folk eager to trade their skills and old stuff for something they needed. Heidemarie Schwermer’s Tauschring eventually became somewhat of a phenomenon in Dortmund and even prompted its creator to ask herself some questions about the life she was living.
Mother forces 'thief' son into parade of shame
The Daily Telegraph
August 23, 2011 12:00AM
Punishment ... the boy with the sign around his neck. Picture: Supplied Source: The Daily Telegraph
A MOTHER made her child sit in public with a sign pinned to his shirt that said: "Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief."
The boy, thought to be aged about 10, was also wearing Shrek ears and writing lines in what appeared to a form of public punishment, according to dozens of witnesses who contacted the Townsville Bulletin.
The boy spent almost an hour on Sunday near a popular waterpark in Townsville while his family ate lunch nearby, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Diane Mayers was so "horrified" when she saw the boy she contacted Child Safety Services to intervene.
Ms Mayers, who worked with the department in the past, said any long-term effects of public humiliation would have been much worse than physical abuse.
"The boy just kept his head down and was staring at the ground," she said. "The parents had gone to all the trouble of printing two copies of the sign - one for the back and one for the front - and laminating them. A lot of work had gone in to it.
"A lot of people walked past and were laughing at him, including boys who would have been his age.
"At one point the boy had taken off the Shrek ears. My daughter walked past and heard the mother say, 'Put them back on or I'll smack your head in'."
'I've been shot – I hope it doesn't ruin my new hairdo': 92-year-old heroine threw herself in front of crazed gunman as he blasted three in salon
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:37 AM on 23rd August 2011
Gunman: Darren Williams injured three Women including his wife in Newport, Wales
A heroic 92-year-old was blasted in the neck with a shotgun when she leapt in front of a gunman who opened fire in a crowded Wales hairdressers, it was revealed today.
The woman sprang into action after Darren Williams, 45, burst through the doors of Carol Ann’s Salon in Newport, brandishing the double-barrelled gun.
The courageous widow was hit in the neck as she tried to protect hairdresser Rachel Williams, 37, from the attack by her estranged husband.
She first kicked a table towards the 16-stone bodybuilder before stepping between the gunman and his intended victim as he raised the weapon.
But Darren still fired both barrels of the shotgun - hitting his wife in the leg, the pensioner in the neck and another customer in the arm – before fleeing to woodland where he was later found dead.
Neighbouring vet Peter Heathcoate told how he ran to the salon after hearing the shots fired - and helped the injured women.
Mr Heathcote said: ‘I have never seen anything like it. I did not know what I was going in to - whether people had been shot and whether they were still alive.
‘Rachel Williams was lying on the floor and the older lady had blood coming from her head.
‘She was very shocked but said she was trying to protect the woman who was shot, which is amazing.
‘She had tried to kick over a table towards him and it was still there broken on the floor.
‘The old lady was worried about where she had been shot because she didn't want surgeons to shave her hair - because she'd just had it cut.
‘Rachel was very calm and I was trying to reassure her as she was laying on the floor.
Crime scene: Armed police arrived at the scene within minutes, but the gunman had already fled
‘She told me how she had been shot in the leg and that it was her ex-husband who had come into the store.
‘The gun was right there next to me. It was an antique shotgun and looked very elaborate.’
Mr Heathcote said how his team of vet surgery staff helped to patch up the wounded women until the ambulance service arrived.
‘The police and paramedics arrived about two minutes after this happened and the firearms police were also there very quickly.’
The brave 92-year-old, who hasn't been named, was released from Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport after being treated for the shotgun wound.
Shooting: Malpas Road, in Newport, South Wales where the 92-year-old was blasted in the neck with a shotgun by Darren Williams
Police are still investigating Williams' friends involved in hunting and shooting to discover how he managed to get his hands on the illegally-held shotgun.
Williams is believed to have used another weapon to shoot himself dead after escaping from the hairdressers salon in the attack in broad daylight on Friday afternoon.
Rachel was today still receiving treatment for her wounds at the Royal Gwent Hospital. She is stable and is expected to need plastic surgery.
Military and shooting enthusiast Williams was jailed for four months in 2004 after police discovered the ‘arsenal of weapons’ in his bedroom at their home in Newport, Gwent.
It included a stun gun, a .22 pistol, a machete, a hunting knife, cannisters of CS gas and bullets.
But Williams is believed to have kept up his interest in guns and weapons after being released from prison.
Neighbours said the couple were parting - and decided to sell the property for £129,000 because of the impending divorce.
The couple married five years ago but have lived together at the house for about ten years.
They have a son, 15, of their own and Darren has another son, 21, from a previous relationship.
At the scene: Police at the scene of a shooting at Carol-Ann's Hairstylists on Malpas Road, Newport in South Wales
An inquest is expected to be opened tomorrow by Gwent coroner David Bowen.
Mr Williams, 45, from Cwmbran, South Wales, went on the run for five hours before he was found dead in the woods.
Police have confirmed he went to the hairdressers to confront his ex-wife over their separation.
His family have now said he had been suffering in recent weeks because of the 'traumatic break-up of his marriage'.
They said he had 'desperately needed professional medical attention'.
Mr Williams was found at 8.15pm on Friday at Brynglas Woods in the Newport area.
Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with his death.
Superintendent Dave Johnson, local commander for Newport Police, said that Mr Williams ‘enjoyed hunting and the outdoor life’.
He said the double-barrelled shotgun that Mr Williams fired twice at the salon where his ex-wife worked had been recovered but that Mr Williams did not have a licence for it.
Anwar Ul Haq, 60, who lives above and works at Malpas Convenience Store - two doors down from Carol-Ann's Salon, said he heard about three shots and a woman in her 50's ran into his shop asking for help.
He said: 'A woman came out shouting "help, help"... she went to another shop and asked for help, in the mean time the police vans came.
'That woman was frightened, scared, she was when she came out.
The police said to go inside and close the doors. We didn't go outside then as the police blocked the road and after four o'clock the police said to us close the shops and so we closed the shop.'.
Shaving child's head isn't abuse. Seriously?
The Bakersfield Californian | Sunday, Aug 21 2011 10:30 PM
Updated Sunday, Aug 21 2011 10:30 PM
What the experts say
Discipline is never pleasant, but it should have a purpose, said therapist Laurel Sheffield, who works almost exclusively with foster children at the Henrietta Weill Child Guidance Clinic.
"Such as, if a child destroys a library book, a logical consequence would be to have them earn money to repay the library, or not being allowed to check out books," she said. "Discipline comes from the Latin word 'to teach.'"
Psychologist Corey Gonzales agreed, saying parents should understand what the goal is before meting out punishment and then assess whether they're achieving that goal.
"The first line attempt would be positive reinforcement," he said. And in some instances you may need to find leverage over the child by taking away privileges.
"As a parent, you will sometimes feel powerless," he said. "But you don't want react by flexing your muscles because that's teaching your kid how they should react" to adverse situations.
When a 12-year-old girl with previously shoulder-length, rich, brown hair comes to school in tears -- trying to hide her freshly buzzed head under a hat -- adults should take notice.
In this case, school officials did take notice after a local mom shaved her daughter's head to punish her for lying. They called Child Protective Services.
But, ultimately, one key person, and the system overall, let that little girl down.
Pat Cheadle Director of Kern County Human Services, cleared the mom of any wrongdoing, chalking up the girl's distress to general teenager's angst over any change to their appearance.
Lets pause to digest that.
It's been a long time since I was a teenager, but even at my advanced age I can state with certainty that it would be far more devastating to a young girl to have her head shaved involuntarily than even getting a pimple just before class photos.
And the fact that the girl's own mother, who knew exactly how sensitive her daughter was about her appearance, would inflict such humiliation as discipline makes the act far worse.
Cheadle could not talk about this case in particular, but did speak in general about how the department handles abuse allegations.
"As a parent, is that a form of punishment I would use? No," Cheadle said. "But cutting of the hair, in and of itself, doesn't rise to the level of the legal definition of emotional abuse."
I disagree, and frankly, think Cheadle blew it on this one.
But this story is troubling on many other fronts as well.
The system itself was rigged against this girl from the start.
Because she is an adoptive child, not a foster kid, she had no representation, there was no psychological evaluation done to assess how damaging this act was to her and there was no mandatory counseling for her or her mother.
The public doesn't usually hear about such cases. Even when a child is killed, the details are shrouded in secrecy, ostensibly to protect the child. But I've long contended the confidentiality more often protects abusers and the system itself. This case confirmed my suspicions.
Acting out, anger and pain
The girl, we'll call her "Ella," is adopted. Ella's adoptive mom, whom I'll call "Sandy," became frustrated with Ella as the girl began acting out about a year before the head shaving incident. (I'm not using real names here, for obvious reasons, but I did contact "Sandy." She declined comment.)
The bad behavior began shortly after Sandy refused to tell Ella anything about her biological parents, according to a social worker's report.
Hmmm. Might that be the real problem?
Anyhow, in the realm of bad teenage behavior, most of Ella's transgressions were fairly mild. But they absolutely required attention.
Sandy told the social worker that Ella had been taking things that didn't belong to her -- her sister's iPod, Sandy's make up -- and lying about it. Ella forged Sandy's signature on two school referrals for rule violations.
Sandy said she'd even caught Ella shaking her 3-year-old sister.
Ella had been grounded, her privileges had been taken away and she was given extra chores. Sandy told the social worker she had even gone to the extreme of cutting Ella's hair as punishment at least once before, but only by a few inches.
Then Sandy found her mascara and eye shadow in Ella's backpack and Ella lied about it.
Sandy wasn't angry and didn't "snap," according to the report and later testimony.
She calmly brought Ella into the bathroom, had her lean over the sink, got out the clippers and buzzed all of Ella's hair off as the girl sobbed.
Ella was left with about an inch of uneven, dark brown fuzz covering her scalp. The next day,Sandy sent her off to school.
She did it, Sandy told the social worker, because she felt such a drastic act would finally get Ella's attention. Ella "prizes her hair most of all," Sandy said. The little girl was constantly combing and styling it.
She was "not trying to humiliate her, but her hair is all she cares about." Sandy admitted that she knew it would "piss her off," according to the social worker's report.
By the way, Sandy is a licensed foster parent.
Foster parents aren't allowed to cut a foster child's hair for any reason without express permission from the biological parent or social worker. I have to believe Sandy was familiar with that rule.
Ella cried when the social worker asked how she felt about her buzzed hair.
"I look like a boy," she said.
She confirmed that Sandy had cut her hair as punishment at least once before. Her offense that time was having used too much conditioner, Ella said.
The rest of the family -- father, sister and brother -- also confirmed Sandy had previously cut Ella's hair as punishment.
The social worker found the allegation of abuse "substantiated" and recommended, but could not mandate, counseling.
Sandy appealed that finding because, as she testified, it would have prevented her from working with children through her church.
Interestingly, a substantiated or inconclusive finding of abuse, which goes into a Department of Justice database, doesn't automatically revoke a foster care license. That would have to be done by another state agency in a separate investigation.
Back to the case at hand. The allegation of abuse was found substantiated by the social worker's supervisor and then went to a grievance review hearing.
Again, because Ella isn't a foster child, the system afforded her few rights.
Everyone at the hearing had a lawyer except Ella, who was called as a witness for Sandy.
Cheadle told me foster kids are assigned lawyers but the county isn't required to provide biological or adoptive kids an attorney, nor does it have the authority to do so.
I also wondered if Ella had to testify in front of Sandy and who did the questioning.
Cheadle couldn't be specific. But county policy requires a hearing officer to interview minors "off record" to determine if they're being coerced.
Ella's testimony was conducted with Sandy in the room, however, which I find extremely lame.
No kid is going to sit in front of their own parent and say, "My mom's a monster."
In fact, during the hearing, Sandy said she'd never before cut Ella's hair as punishment. Ella agreed even though she, Sandy and three other family members all told the social worker it had happened previously. Sure, they all could have been lying to the social worker. More likely, Ella was too intimidated to tell the truth at the hearing.
Stacking the deck
Hearing officer Jeff Mendoza pronounced the abuse allegation "inconclusive."
Shaving a kid's head has the potential to cause emotional abuse, he said, but whether it did was undetermined.
Mendoza, in his report, slammedthe county for not conducting a psychological evaluation and notdoing enough follow up to determine if Ella's anxiety over the buzz cut was intense and ongoing, the legal definition of emotional abuse.
But he knew full well the county had no authority to mandate a psych eval. And social workers, by law, have to make findings within 30 days of an allegation, not enough time to know if there was lasting harm.
It's a classic "Catch-22."
Finally, Mendoza wenton at length about Ella's behavior, which strikes me as blaming the victim.
Anyone familiar with teens will tell you Ella's behavior wasn't that far out and is particularly commonplace among foster kids and many adoptive children. Especially adoptive children having identity issues -- such those who've been refused information about their biological parents.
While I consider Mendoza's "inconclusive"finding extremely weak, Cheadle's final order of "unfounded" was worse.
Aside from equating head shaving to common teenage embarrassment, Cheadle also criticizedElla's behavior and took Sandy's word that sincegettingthe buzz cut the girl had beenon the straight and narrow.
There's been no follow up, no further interviews with Ella nor the school. This is all just coming from mom, who, by the way testified in the hearing that she felt "justified" in shaving her daughter's head.
Aside from that, is Cheadle suggesting that the ends justify the means when it comes to discipline? That's an awfully slippery slope.
Look, I'm not saying the mom should have gone to jail in this case.
But just like the mom said about shaving her kid's head, when you cross the line there are consequences.
Apparently, for 12-year-old girls, there are. But not adults.
Police free 8-year-old boy trapped in chimney for hours
WEST VALLEY CITY — Richard Draper said he has come home to a few surprises in his life, but nothing quite like Friday night.
Draper and his family went out around 5 p.m. for some dinner. When they came home around 7:30 p.m., they could hear a noise coming from their home.
After looking through the house, they went downstairs to see if they had left the television on. They hadn't.
Instead, they discovered an 8-year-old boy trapped inside their chimney.
The boy said his name was Steven and that he had tried to get into the house to get a drink, Draper said.
Police, who had received a report of a missing child earlier, responded and went to work. They were able to lower water down to the boy from the roof, but they had to cut a hole in the Draper's wall in order to free him.
"There used to be art on this wall," Draper said. "There used to be a lot of things on this wall."
It took about an hour for police to get the boy out, Draper said. From the main floor, police were able to reach down and pull up Steven, who was standing on the chimney flue between the basement and main floor.
Medical personnel were standing by, Draper said, but after being trapped in a chimney for more than four hours, the boy emerged with little more than scrapes and bruises.
"When they brought him out, he was in much better condition than I anticipated," he said.
Police said the boy was being watched by his older siblings and wandered off. His siblings called their parents, who then called police.
The boy had been on the Draper's property earlier in the day, Draper said, looking for kids to play with. After the family left, he apparently climbed up the apricot tree near the house and lowered himself feet first into the chimney.
Draper said he and his family were fearful for the boy's condition and were relieved to see him in good health.
"I was haunted by the fact that we had this child in our chimney," he said. "All in all, this turned out really well."
Phoenix police identify fatally shot carjacking suspect
LINK TO VIDEO:
Inmate, pregnant fiancee wed in courtroom, but they can’t touch
DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter
August 19, 2011 5:08PM
Updated: August 20, 2011 6:11AM
The bride wore black, while the groom sported handcuffs.
And thanks to security rules, Jessica Ortiz and Tharvin Benitez couldn’t exchange rings or even share the traditional kiss after their unusual wedding Friday in a Wheaton courtroom.
Benitez, 21, is jailed after being arrested in May on felony drug charges.
But the Des Plaines man and his pregnant, 21-year-old bride wanted to be married before their child is born, so they sought permission from DuPage County Judge Blanche Fawell for the courthouse wedding.
Fawell, who is presiding over Benitez’s criminal case, approved the request and performed the brief marriage ceremony after Benitez — clad in standard-issue orange jail fatigues and handcuffs — appeared in her courtroom on his drug charges.
Courthouse rules that prevent jail inmates from touching visitors ruled out the usual wedding kiss after Ortiz and Benitez completed their vows.
And defense attorney Robert Duffy had to step in for Benitez and place the ring on Ortiz’s finger — a task he can’t remember performing for a client.
“In 40 years of practice, that’s never occurred before,” Duffy said.
Ortiz said the couple already was planning to marry before Benitez’s arrest, but decided to go ahead with the ceremony because the birth of their child is imminent.
“It should be next week,” Ortiz said of her expected delivery.
The newlyweds may not be spending much time together.
If convicted, Benitez faces up to 30 years in prison. He also could face deportation for allegedly entering the country illegally.
“It’s going to be a while before they take their honeymoon,” Duffy said. “But love springs eternal.”
LINK TO PHOTO:
Off the chain! City slams bicyclist with $1,500 in fines for running red lights
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, August 21st 2011, 4:00 AM
Manhattan bicyclist Juan (JC) Rodriguez didn't learn his lesson after running his first red light. Or his second.
But the third time may be the charm - because it came with more than $1,500 in fines.
"It's absurd," complained Rodriguez, 45, who's also a pedicab driver. "When you look at the fines leveled and the actual offenses, it makes no sense."
Some bicycling advocates agree fining two-wheelers the same as tractor-trailers is overkill, while others say bikers should stop at red lights.
"They are endangering pedestrians, many of whom are elderly or children who may not be able to get out of the way quickly," said City Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx).
"We have too many people riding their cars and bicycles and thinking these rules are not meant for them."
Department of Motor Vehicles spokesman Nick Cantiello says cyclists are subject to the following fines for red-light violations: $190 for the first offense, $375 for the second, $940 for the third.
They don't, however, face $80 in surcharges that motorists get and there are no license points to worry about.
"Bicycles are expected to follow the rules of the road just like any other vehicle," Cantiello said.
Rodriguez says that regardless of whether it's legal, it's common practice for bikers to roll through red lights when it's safe.
He did it on March 3 as he rode down Central Park West near 109th St. on his way to work, and a traffic cop pulled him over.
"My first thought was, 'Are you serious? Is this some sort of joke?'" he said.
It wasn't. The officer also gave him a ticket for not having a bicycle bell.
Rodriguez figured it was a fluke. But six days later, an officer pulled him over for blowing a red light at Riverside Drive and W. 96th St.
"I thought, 'Oh my God! What is going on?'" Rodriguez said.
Last month, Rodriguez was stopped after he rolled through a red in Chelsea.
He pleaded not guilty to all three tickets by mail.
"I thought if I show up in court I might have a say and show how unbelievably ludicrous this is," he said.
At a hearing this month, Rodriguez contested the Riverside Drive ticket. The judge slapped him with a $375 fine.
Rodriguez returned to traffic court last week to plead guilty to the two other tickets and was fined another $1,000.
Barbara Ross of the pro-bike environmental group Time's Up! said the penalty system needs a tune up.
"Fining cyclists up to $950 for a traffic violation - the same rate as drivers of 4-ton vehicles that kill hundreds of people annually - is excessive and unfair," she said.
"Traffic enforcement policies should focus on safer streets, not use them as a revenue source for the city."
Rodriguez, who lives in Washington Heights, hopes by telling his story, other cyclists won't have to shell out a lot of green for running a red.
"Things have changed," he said. "[Bicyclists] need to be aware of what the worst-case scenario can be."
Michelle’s Separate Travel Costs Taxpayers Thousands
White House Dossier
August 19, 2011, 10:26 am
Michelle Obama and President Obama traveled to Martha’s Vineyard just hours apart, costing taxpayers thousands in additional expenses so she could have just a bit of extra vacation time.
Mrs. Obama and her daughters arrived just before 2 pm Thursday on a U.S. government jet, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times, which got its information from the local airport. The first lady’s office has been silent on her travel. President Obama arrived in the evening along with the family dog Bo.
The extra costs related to Mrs. Obama’s solo trip mainly include the flight on a specially designed military aircraft she took instead of Air Force One, as well as any extra staff and Secret Service that had to be enlisted to go with her. She would also have had her own motorcade from the airport to her vacation residence.
Mrs. Obama’s separate jet travel sends the wrong message on a host of issues, from global warming to the budget deficit to the economy – in which currently so many people can’t afford to take a vacation at all.
This is not the first time Michelle has gone on vacation ahead of the president on the taxpayers’ tab. Last December, she racked up what was likely more than $100,000 in expenses leaving early for their Hawaii vacation.
Pasco couple fear losing home to foreclosure for paying mortgage too early
Times Staff Writer
Saturday, August 20, 2011
NEW PORT RICHEY — Seventy-year-old Sharon Bullington may lose her home because she paid her mortgage a week early.
That may not make much sense to the thousands of homeowners who are behind on their mortgages in Florida. But it seems it does to Bank of America, which has filed to foreclose on Bullington and her husband, James, 78, who is terminally ill.
"It's like death to me," Sharon Bullington said, her voice quivering on the phone Friday. "My husband is bedridden. It's almost more than I can bear."
The couple moved to Florida 15 years ago after James Bullington retired from General Motors in Flint, Mich., and moved into the 1,591-square-foot New Port Richey home, which is now valued at $133,464, though they owe about $177,000.
When James became ill, the couple encountered financial difficulties because of high medical bills. The couple asked Bank of America to modify the loan.
There was a catch. The couple would have to first officially default on their $1,400-a-month payment. The couple did that and entered into the modification plan, which reduced their payment to $916.
Sharon Bullington made the January payment on Dec. 23, and the bank accepted the money, according to court records.
The next month, she made the February payment over the phone. Weeks later, the money had not been withdrawn from her bank account. After Bullington asked the bank about it, a representative told her she had punched in the wrong routing number. In March, the bank kicked the couple out of the modification plan.
Bullington pleaded for help in a June letter to Bank of America president Brian Moynihan and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor.
One of Moynihan's aides, Ana Olivera, told Bullington the foreclosure could not be stopped. She wrote in a two-page letter that the payment due on Jan. 1, 2011, had been made in December.
"In accordance with the Trial Payment Letter dated December 15, 2010, it indicates that if you are not able to make each payment in the month in which it is due, you will not be eligible for a modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program," the letter said.
Olivera told Bullington she could avoid a foreclosure by selling the home in a short sale or by signing it over to the bank. The letter said the bank values Bullington's business and strives to provide exceptional customer service.
"I understand that you may be disappointed with our final resolution and appreciate the opportunity to clarify this matter," Olivera wrote. "While this may not be the response you were hoping for, I trust I have addressed your concerns."
Olivera, a California-based employee, declined to comment about the case when reached by theTimeson Friday. Bank of America replied in an e-mail: "We are going to re-review the Bullington's case."
The Bullingtons' lawyer, Shawn Yesner, said the case makes no sense because his clients did what the bank told them to do. In 10 years as a lawyer, he said, he has never seen such an outrageous letter.
"I couldn't believe they would put that in writing," he said. "I had to read the letter three or four times. … Bank of America is putting her in a depressed state. She has never been behind on anything."
As thousands of property owners across Florida and the nation battle foreclosure, defense attorneys have accused lenders of bogging down the courts with an unwillingness to negotiate with people on their mortgages, often by simply refusing to make decisions.
Earlier this month, a 41-year-old man faced foreclosure after missing a mortgage payment on a St. Petersburg gas station by just one day. He made several attempts to continue paying and made a $50,000 payment in court earlier this month to settle the case, but the bank refused the payment. The day theTimespublished an article detailing the saga, BB&T suspended the foreclosure action and worked to settle the case.
Sharon Bullington, who has no children or siblings, said she is the sole caregiver for her ill husband, who cannot move from the home in his condition. She said she has repeatedly contacted the bank, but nobody will talk to her.
She wants Moynihan and Bank of America to know this:
"I want them to feel how we feel," she said. "I just don't understand why they're doing this. It looks like they're out to get us."
Good Deed Leads Officer to Drug Bust
ALABAMA – A man who had run out of gas and was in need of a ride was arrested after officers say they discovered drugs on him.
The incident happened Sunday when a deputy spotted two men and a young girl walking on Main St. in Hobson City.
The three were in a car that had run out of gas and were walking home.
The officer was going to give them a courtesy ride to their residence and patted down the two males for safety before they got into his patrol car.
During the pat down, the officer found one of the males, identified as 50-year-old Willard Earl Hazle allegedly in possession of marijuana and crack cocaine.
Hazle was arrested and faces charges of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana 1st and 2 counts of Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance.
Managing Editor of Upper Michigans Source
Not LeDuc's only crime
MARQUETTE, MI -- An Escanaba, Michigan man, 33-year-old Michael Earl LeDuc, was sentenced for wire fraud to 57 months in jail, according to U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis.
In August of 2010 LeDuc filed a claim to his insurance agency, CUNA Mutual Group, that he lost his arm to a wood chipper.
LeDuc had purchased an accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy the previous year, and would have received a payment of $251,000 if the claim had gone through.
In order to file the claim, LeDuc received his own medical records from OSF Saint Francis Hospital in Escanaba, then forged records to prove that he had lost his arm.
After LeDuc sent the forged documents to CUNA, he made several follow-up calls across state lines about the status of his claim, which led to a federal wire fraud charge.
LeDuc pled guilty to the charges, and admitted to several other crimes.
- Filing a false insurance claim with the Standard Insurance Company of Portland, OR, in which he claimed to have suffered serious head injury.
- Filing a number of false insurance claims with AFLAC.
- Selling an ATV on eBay for $1,500, and then keeping the money, but not delivering the ATV.
- Buying gasoline for his gas station from Oasis Fuel, Servco FS, Garrow Oil Propane and Murphy Oil Company using bounced checks, forged letters of credit, and a variety of fraudulent statements.
U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar stated that LeDuc's criminal history placed him in the highest classification available for the crimes he committed. Judge Edgar sentenced LeDuc on the high end of sentencing guidelines for his crimes.
During his plea agreement, LeDuc agreed to pay full restitution for the losses he caused in committing these crimes.
You can rent an entire country for a weekend!
Liechtenstein can be yours for the night, if you have about $70,000 to spare. But what exactly do you get for your money? Find out if your hard-earned dollars buy you a boring state dinner or the right to slaughter the cattle of the disobedient and pick your bride(groom) from among the nation's comeliest youths.
Anything is for sale these days, including tiny landlocked countries in the Alps. The principality of Liechtenstein is up for rent, at least for a few nights at a time, at about $70,000 per night. The country is about 67 square miles, entirely landlocked, and has roughly 35,000 residents. It's strange that it is so willing to rent itself out. The nation as a whole isn't hurting for cash, as it has a high GDP per capita and very low debt. Possibly its willingness to sell itself is the reason for such economic hardiness.
Which isn't to say Liechtenstein isn't fussy about its clientele. When Snoop Dogg tried to rent it for a weekend as a backdrop for a music video it refused his offer. In fact, although it remains available, it hasn't yet been rented. This is possibly because it doesn't offer the best selection of benefits to its temporary owners. Sure, there's the possibility of sipping <snip>tails on Prince Hans-Adam's estate while watching a fireworks display, or having a personalized logo carved into the snow on the side of an alp, but those will run you extra. And sure, renters will have the use of the nation's police force and be presented with a symbolic key to the city. But people who rent an entire country aren't doing it for the fun, they're doing it for the power trip. Renters are looking for Stanford Prison Experiment levels of messed-up power, and they're getting a pricing scheme which allows for 150 guests, with the understanding that there will be no smoking (It's not allowed in Liechtenstein) or hot tubs (They don't have any). Okay, there can be fake currency printed up for the renters, and fake street signs put up to boost their egos, but it wouldn't be the same as real despotism.
Perhaps Prince Hans-Adam II is reluctant to share any of his power. Unlike most rulers, he's more than just a figurehead. In 2003 he got his subjects to give him the power to appoint judges, ignore legislation that he doesn't like, and even dissolve the entire government. Some of those who didn't like the idea found animal carcasses dumped on their doorsteps in the night. He even threatened to sell Liechtenstein to Bill Gates if he didn't get his way. Voters gave him what he wanted, with 64% in favor of the new powers.
This is a shame, because as much fun as it would be to rent a country for a weekend, it would have been so much more fun to track the process of a literal rebellion against Microsoft. There is, of course, no indication that Gates was up for owning Lichtenstein in the first place, but seeing him deploying his private security forces against the rioting people of Lichtenstein would have made for one of the best war narratives ever.
Rush Limbaugh: Obama Flubbed Jobs Pledge
Candidate Barack Obama promised Detroit jobs, but President Barack Obama has delivered unemployment, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh says.
So even Democrats are lambasting the president, Limbaugh said on his radio show today. As an example, he played an audio of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters speaking in Detroit, decrying Obama’s performance on jobs.
The audio featured the California Democrat asking the audience at a “For the People Jobs Tour” town hall in Detroit whether they would allow her to “go after” the president for an “unconscionable” 9.2 percent unemployment rate. Not to be confused with Obama's own jobs bus tour in the Midwest, the Congressional Black Caucus is sponsoring the “For the People Jobs Tour.”
“Maxine’s asking permission to go after the president,” Limbaugh said. “Sad. Pathetic.”
Limbaugh juxtaposed the Waters audio with audio from Detroit voters two years ago who gushed, “We love Obama” for promising money to the city and its public school system.
Obama can’t run on his record, and that’s why Waters peppered the town hall with pointed remarks, Limbaugh said.
“Maxine is the one who wants to unleash,” he said. “But she doesn’t have the guts to do it without an imprimatur.”
Limbaugh shifted gears when he accused Obama of hypocrisy as the president stepped off his Canadian-made campaign bus and addressed an Iowa crowd about the “Made in the U.S.A.” pledge.
Man Accidentally Shoots Himself while Driving Down Interstate 24
News Staff On Wednesday, August 17, 2011 @ 3:10 pm
Clarksville, TN – Today, August 17th, around 1:30pm Justin Newberry, 23 was in a Nissan Altima driving westbound on I-24 when he had to apply his brakes to slow down for traffic. After he applied the brakes, a handgun known as “The Judge” slid out from under the seat.
When Newberry reached down to pick it up he grabbed it by the trigger at which time “The Judge” went off. The round, which was a 410 slug, went into right thigh, exited, and continued on until it hit him in the left leg just above the ankle. He was able to safely pull the car into the median area about mile marker 6 and call 911 for help.
He was transported by Lifeflight to Vanderbilt and is in stable condition. There were multiple forms of identification from different locations in the car so officers were not able to determine where he is from or where he was headed prior to be taken away by Lifeflight.
Additionally, officers on the scene found marijuana and drug paraphernalia inside of the vehicle. Charges are pending.
The photo is a picture of “The Judge” but it is not the actual handgun from the car.
Man arrested after popping McZits outside Florida fast food restaurant
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:45 PM on 11th August 2011
If there’s a warrant out for your arrest, perhaps you should think twice about popping your pimples in a public place.
That’s what police in Florida said when they arrested Owen Lemire Kato outside a Cape Coral McDonald’s in an incident that would make the Hamburglar blush.
As Mr Kato, 23, reached behind him to pop zits on his back for 10 minutes, customers demanded that he leave the restaurant.
Popped: Owen Kato posed for this booking photo following his arrest stemming from an incident where he was popping his zits outside a McDonald's
WSTP.com reported that one of the McDonald’s customers, an off-duty police officer, asked Mr. Kato what his name was.
He replied ‘John Smith’ before changing his mind and giving the officer his correct name and date of birth.
Suddenly, Mr Kato took off running, but was arrested not far from the McDonald’s by another police officer who tackled him.
As the officers searched him, a syringe was found in his pocket.
McDisgusting: Customers complained when they saw Mr Kato popping his own pimples at this McDonald's in Cape Coral, Florida
Mr Kato’s girlfriend told officers that the 23-year-old was using the syringe to inject himself with OxyContin.
He admitted to arresting officers that he gave a phony name and ran because there was an active warrant out for his arrest.
Last year, he was busted twice for driving with a suspended license.
He was arrested for driving without a license, as well as resisting arrest, possession of drug equipment, and giving false identification to a police officer.
Repeat offender: Mr Kato admitted that he gave officers a bogus name because he had a warrant out from prior driving violations last year
‘Sexy’ pics at 12, pregnant at 15 ...and her proud mum’s delighted
How not to raise a daughter
16 Aug 2011
The shots of Soya Keaveney outraged parents, who blasted mum Janis for fuelling the youngster's obsession with a modelling career.
But now that dream is on hold after Soya got pregnant by a 17-year-old boyfriend who is allowed by Janis to stay overnight at the family home.
Jobless single mum Janis, 48, said she was delighted because the council will now have to give her a bigger house.
She added: "Our three-bedroom place was already overcrowded with her sisters Coco and Ritzy, her brother Tarot, Soya's boyfriend Jake and one of her sister's babies.
"Once the new baby comes the council will have to find us a place with four or five bedrooms.
"We've already started packing. Soya's very much against abortion and there was never any doubt she would keep her baby.
"I'm sure she'll make a wonderful mum and will teach her children discipline like I have."
Soya said: "It was a shock at first but now I'm really excited.
"I'm the first of my friends to have a baby - but I don't think I've grown up too fast."
Janis gave full support to Soya's modelling dream, which involved strict diets and obsessive gym workouts even before she had hit her teens.
But the magazine pictures of Soya in lacy undies and a bikini caused uproar. One parent said: "I can't believe her mother would let her go on like this. Has she never heard of paedophiles?"
When Soya posted the snaps on Facebook she was deluged by lewd comments from perverts.
Ex-school secretary Janis, who is now on benefits, claims she is a strict but understanding mum.
Soya was going to discos in Thornaby, Cleveland, from the age of seven, wearing make-up, mini dresses and revealing tops.
Janis said: "Soya is still only a girl and very immature in some ways, but I've always 100 per cent trusted her when she goes out with her friends.
"When she was 12 or 13 she went with some pals to an under-18s disco and told me about a contest they had to see who could kiss the most boys. I didn't see any harm in it. After all, it was only kissing."
Janis admitted she had let mechanic Jake stay overnight.
But she insisted he and Soya, who was on the Pill, had separate bedrooms.
And she plans to continue to keep them apart even though Soya is 12 weeks pregnant.
She added: "I know people might think I'm laying down the law after the horse has bolted, but Soya won't be sharing a bed with Jake under my roof until she's turned 16 in January.
"I'm very strict about that. I know they're very much in love but the law is the law.
"Soya's dream of being a model is taking a back seat. Now she wants to be a midwife."
IT is tragic that this baby will arrive with no responsible adult having any realistic idea about what it takes to raise a child.
Mum Soya is still only a child herself and has no idea of the demands of having a baby.
Dad Jake does have a job but clearly no ability to provide a home for his own child. Soya's mum Janis encouraged her to dress like a sex object but talks about being strict in not allowing her to sleep with her boyfriend.
It's a sad cycle repeating itself and we can only hope Soya gets some outside help.
Man Claims NBA Star Bryant Injured Him At Local Church
Lakers Star Was Attending Service At St. Therese of Carmel On Sunday
According to police, Bryant took the phone from Hagos, did not see any pictures on the phone and then left the church.
Hagos claims he injured his wrist in the incident and had to go to the hospital for treatment. In a police report he filed, Hagos said he suffered a sprained wrist.
Parishioner Marsha Murphy told 10News she attended the 11 a.m. mass at St. Therese of Carmel on Sunday. She said she saw Bryant standing in the back of the church while his wife sat in the pews.
Murphy said she did not see any physical encounter between Bryant and another parishioner.
"I saw people, you know, being giddy and kind of excited that he was there, mostly men who were like, 'Wow, it's Kobe Bryant,' but I didn't see any inappropriateness," said Murphy.
On Tuesday, 10News tried to speak to Hagos at his home, but he was not available.
Many people 10News spoke to said they were not sure if they believe the allegations, but most agreed people should not be taking pictures at church.
"Sometimes you can flare up, lose your temper. I've done it myself and maybe you snatch the phone from somebody, so I don't blame him [Bryant]," said Carmel Valley resident Nigel Mallett.
Parishioner Theodora Furtado said, "I think he has a right to his privacy, and if he doesn't want his pictures taken then we need to respect that as well."
"I feel bad for Kobe ... he seemed content, he seemed reverent, there was nothing unusual," said Murphy. "I didn't even see anybody trying to speak with him, even during the sign of the peace. I didn't see anybody try to make contact with him."
Murphy said after Bryant's wife got up to take communion, they calmly left the church together.
"They both dipped hands in baptismal font, crossed themselves and they both exited," said Murphy. "When I looked out, they were the only two people I saw in the parking lot."
Police said they are continuing their investigation into the man's claims, and one parishioner said police have interviewed church staff members about the incident.
John Black, spokesman for the Los Angeles Lakers, told 10News he could not comment on the incident because of the NBA player lockout.
On Tuesday evening, Bryant's lawyer, Mark Campbell, told TMZ his client is "aware of the baseless allegations asserted against him, and is prepared to defend against them fully."
Police said they want to talk to Hagos before they speak with Bryant, but investigators said Hagos is not making himself available for a week.
Couple charged after nearly 700 cats seized
Humane Society officials call it one of the largest cat hoarding cases in U.S. history
ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. — A High Springs couple accused of hoarding 692 cats have been arrested.
Pennie and Steven Lefkowitz, the owners of Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary, are each facing 35 counts of animal cruelty. They have bonded out of jail.
Alachua County Animal Services removed the cats from the sanctuary in High Springs in June in what is the biggest case of cat hoarding the Humane Society of the United States has ever participated in and is in the top three of the largest cat hoarding cases in U.S. history.
The cats were put in a warehouse that became a makeshift shelter. About 100 of them had to be put down.
The rest have been receiving treatment and are being spayed and neutered by University of Florida veterinary students. They will be put up for adoption in the coming weeks.
Alachua County Animal Services said the agency received calls from people who needed to get rid of their cats and left them at Haven Acres.
The agency said residents thought they were taking their cats to a "country club environment."
Pennie Lefkowitz said in June that she doesn't believe she or her husband are hoarders. She said they were just trying to help out as many of the cats as possible.
But she did admit that they may have gone overboard and acquired too many cats.
"I was just tired of seeing so much euthanasia and wanted to know what we could do personally, and he said Alachua County needed a cat sanctuary," Pennie Lefkowitz said in June.
She said they spent more than $33,000 on the shelter last year alone.
LINK TO IMAGES OF CATS FROM SANCTUARY:
Mayor dumps gift-wrapped 20-tonne boulder on ex-wife’s lawn
A boulder topped with a pink ribbon and covered in a spray-painted message: "Happy birthday, Isa XX" sits in the driveway of Isabelle Prevost. The 20-tonne stone was left there as a gift by her ex-husband Dany Lariviere, mayor of a nearby municipality.Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS
A small-town mayor is under police investigation after finally giving his wife a nice, big rock.
Make that his ex-wife. And the rock was a 20 tonne boulder, not a ring.
Dany Larivière, the mayor of Saint-Théodore-d’Acton, east of Montreal, told a French news station that he had dropped the boulder off on his ex-wife’s lawn early Sunday morning. The rock is spray-painted “Happy Birthday, Isa XX” and topped with a big pink bow.
“I had to do something so she’d leave me alone,” he toldTVAMonday morning. “That’s the biggest rock she’ll ever get in her life.”
Larivière was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.
Quebec Police told theTorontoStarthey were still deciding whether criminal charges could be laid, after Larivière apparently refused to remove the boulder.
“It’s a gift. It’s hers now,” Larivière said. “I did it in the middle of the night. It was a surprise.”
He joked that his ex-wife, Isabelle Prévost, had always wanted a big rock, quipping that this one was between 18 and 24 “carat-tonnes.”
Prévost called police to file a complaint after discovering the delivery Sunday morning.
“The investigation is open,” said Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Sgt. Valérie Bolduc. She said police are considering laying charges of harassment or mischief, as well as possible highway-code violations.
The parents of Larivière’s ex-wife described the incident as “disgusting” and her mother toldThe Canadian Pressthat their daughter was too upset to grant an interview.
In his own interview with a local newspaper, Larivière boasted that police stopped him as he transported the boulder with a front-end loader. He owns a small excavation company in Saint-Théodore-d’Acton.
“They checked my papers, everything was in order, and they followed me and were there at the scene,” he toldLa Voix de L’Est.
Larivière said he spent a substantial amount of money during the divorce in order to share custody of their children and added Prévost has been harassing him.
The couple has been separated three years.
With files from The Canadian Press
Starbucks chief calls on CEOs to stop political donations, create jobs
5:42 p.m. CDT, August 15, 2011
Great-granny, facing eviction from Brooklyn home, to fight in court for right to live in peace
DAILY NEWS WRITER
Monday, August 15th 2011, 4:00 AM
Feisty great-grandmother Mary Lee Ward has been battling to keep her modest Brooklyn house since the late 1990s.
The victim of a predatory subprime mortgage lender that went bankrupt in the housing crash four years ago, Ward has nearly lost the Bedford-Stuyvesant home a number of times - and faces eviction yet again on Friday.
"There is no way I'm going to leave this place. Not alive," said a teary-eyed Ward. "This is my home for 44 years. I've put everything into it."
Ward, 82, was desperate for extra money back in 1995 to pay for a lawyer to help keep her great-granddaughter from being adopted. Ward found a flyer in her mailbox from Delta Funding, a subprime mortgage lender, promising her a cash advance of $10,000 if she borrowed against her one-family frame house on Tompkins Ave.
Ward signed. She said she has seen only $1,000 of the cash she was promised and has been in and out of courtrooms battling banks - and even her own lawyers - for more than a decade.
She thought her home was safe after Delta Funding sent her a letter in 2001 saying they would cancel the loan.
Ward says what she didn't know was that Delta Funding never rescinded the loan, and that banks have been playing hot potato with her mortgage for years.
The company was sued by the feds in 1999 for civil rights violations for targeting minority-group members - especially black women - in Queens and Brooklyn. The company went bankrupt in 2007, along with many other subprime lenders.
But Ward's house remained in limbo.
She says the latest owner, 768 Dean Inc., bought her home at a foreclosure auction last September. "They're trying to throw me out and I have nowhere to go," Ward said.
She said she received 18 eviction letters in the mail just on Aug. 6.
Representatives of 768 Dean Inc. could not be reached for comment.
Ward, who lives on $840 a month from Social Security, saysher $82,000 loan has now morphed into a debt of $200,000.
She huddled with her new legal team, lawyers for the grass-roots group Common Law, late last week to talk strategy. Legally, there's nothing they can do, but they're hoping they can rally people together for next Friday's showdown with city marshals, representatives of the group said.
"We're hoping that with the support of her neighbors and fellow New Yorkers, she'll be able to get some bargaining power back," said Common Law lawyer Karen Gargamelli.
Ward said she tosses and turns every night and looks forward to the day when she can rest easy.
"Just let me have a little peace," she said.
Woman sues for sexual harassment at People's Choice Realty; Their response? She's too ugly to touch
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, August 11th 2011, 2:40 PM
A 23-year-old lesbian says the Brooklyn real estate office she once worked in is a den of deviants where raunchy sexcapades were the norm.
But the bosses she's suing say she's too ugly to harass.
Priscilla Agosto ran a gauntlet of sexual humilition - verbal and physical - in her 14 miserable months at People's Choice Realty, her suit against its three bosses says.
No less than seven male employees made lewd advances at her - even after she complained to the bosses, she said in papers filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Her male co-workers exposed themselves, rubbed up against her and even asked for oral sex, she alleges.
And they even offered $500 to watch her have sex with her girlfriend, she said.
"I hope and pray that by sharing my story, anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation will have the courage to speak up," said Agosto.
Odelia Berlianshik, the owner of the Williamsburg firm, denied the charges - and launched a shocking attack on Agosto's appearance.
"Who would touch her? She's an ugly girl anyway," she said of the former secretary. "She made up a story because she didn't want to work."
Agosto's lawyer Brendan Chao said another former employee corroborated much of his client's account.
He only brought the suit recently, he added, because a complaint had to be first filed with the city's Commission of Human Rights.
Agosto worked in real estate office from January 2008 until March 2009.
The discrimination suit seeks unspecified back pay and benefits.
"People attacked her ethnicity, her gender, her sexual orientation," said Chao.
She finally quit after things got physical. An employee slapped Agosto across the face, but when she came crying to Berlianshik, the suit said, her boss "waved her away."
Berlianshik conceded the slapping incident took place, but claimed the worker was instructed to say he's sorry.
"He apologized and offered to buy her lunch," she said.
Berlianshik is named in the suit as are Mickey and Richard Berlianshik, the other co-owners.
Possible drug overdose eyed in Florida pastor Zachery Tims' death in Times Square hotel room: source
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF
Monday, August 15th 2011, 6:01 PM
The Florida pastor found dead in a Times Square hotel room may have died of a drug overdose, according to a police source.
A small glassine envelope containing a white powder was found in Zachery Tims's pocket, the source said.
The powder will be tested to determine if it cocaine, heroin or any other drug. An autopsy on Tims was inconclusive, and further tests are being conducted.
Tims, 42, the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, was found dead Friday evening in his 37th-floor room at the W Hotel on Broadway.
He was lying face up in a walkway between the bedroom and the living room area, the source said. His body had no obvious signs of trauma.
Based on what family members told police, none of Tims' jewelry was missing, and it does not appear he was robbed of any other belongings.
Police believe he was alone when he died because hotel staff had to break through the door's security bar, which can only be put in place from inside the room.
The hotel had no comment.
But a second source said police are checking to see where Tims had been during his stay in the city and who he called.
He had come to the city for a meeting and was due to leave Thursday for Texas.
The source said he did not check out that day. On Friday, hotel workers went to his room and discovered his body.
Tims and his wife, Riva, founded the church in Orlando in 1996. It now has 8,000 members.
Two years ago, the couple divorced after he admitted having an affair with a stripper.
Riva Tims, who shared custody of their children, could not be reached yesterday for comment.
FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS AND FOLLOW- UP STORY:
Naked Lawyer Challenges Girlfriend To Sword Fight
13 August 2011
[Titusville, FL] On Wednesday, a Central Florida defense attorney who specializes in murder cases threatened his live-in girlfriend with, first, a large mirror and then a sword, according to a report in the Florida Today.
He also threatened to kill her. And he was naked.
The lawyer – Terry Lee Locy, 36 – was arguing with his girlfriend about his excessive drinking when he removed a door mirror and held it up over his head as if to hit her with it, says the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
His girlfriend then grabbed the mirror hook from the door and hurled it it Locy, hitting him in the head and causing a cut.
Naturally, Locy then took a shower – perhaps to cool off? – only to emerge naked and carrying a sword. He then handed the sword to his girlfriend and warned her that she was going to need it.
Locy then went to get a bigger sword and proclaimed to the girlfriend that he was going to kill her. The woman ran but Locy slammed her against a a piece of furniture and punched her repeatedly. She was eventually able to call for help.
Locy escaped the home, naked and still wielding the sword. He’s now in a heap of trouble for his verbal threats and acts of violence, including domestic violence battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony.
He could spend up to five years in prison if convicted. Good thing he is a defense attorney.
He was eventually arrested, released and was ordered to submit to an evaluation of his mental health.
Yes, Terry Lee Locy used his driver’s license photo for his on-line bio
There’s Something About Terry
Locy, a Florida native, has two offices: one in Rockledge and another in Cocoa. It is, or was, all part of his having “ambitions for further expansion” of his law practice. Since 2005, Locy has been licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and Florida.
Since 2008, he has been licensed to practice in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
His specialties are appeals, constitutional law and criminal law. He is a Phi Beta Kappa. While at University of Massachusetts – Amherst early on in his collegiate career, he studied English Medieval History, which would explain the whole sword thing.
He finished up his schooling at the University of Miami School of Law. While there – according to Locy – he was “a popular young gentleman known for his quick wit and his athletic physique.”
According to his Cornell University Law School bio, “Terry L. Locy possesses an energetic, articulate, innovative, but most importantly, an intensely aggressive style of litigation that often leaves his opponents fuming and courtroom onlookers entertained and wanting more.”
True, he does put on quite a show, although I think we’ve all had enough of his shenanigans for now.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
F1 fan receives bionic hand from Mercedes team
A teenage Formula One fan has been fitted with a souped-up artificial hand after he offered to sell advertising space to Mercedes - on his prosthetic limb.
10:04AM BST 14 Aug 2011
Matthew James, 14, who was born without his left hand, sent a cheeky letter to Ross Brawn, boss of F1 team Mercedes GP Petronas, asking for £35,000 to pay for a top-of-the range artificial limb.
In return, shrewd Matthew said he would allow the company to sponsor the hand by putting the Mercedes logo on it - like ads seen on F1 cars.
But Mercedes where so touched by Matthew's ''intelligent and moving letter'' they agreed to help him and teamed up with firm Touch Bionics, who create and fit hi-tech artificial limbs.
Together they designed his own customised i-LIMB Pulse - the most advanced prosthetic limb in the world.
The hand is so versatile Matthew can grip a pen to draw pictures and write, tie his shoe laces and catch a ball.
The hand, made from high-grade plastic with a black silicone socket, literally plugs into Matthew's arm.
Two electrodes on the inside of the socket detect electrical impulses made by the muscles in Matthew's lower arm.
The signals are then beamed to a mini-computer in the palm which translates the messages into movements, replicating a normal hand.
After being fitted with the hand last Friday Matthew said: ''It is just amazing.
''My old artificial hand was not great, it had a pretty basic open close mechanism similar to a clamp.
''But with this one I can do everything, it is just like the real thing.
''It is going to make such a big difference to my life.
''It also looks really cool - the outer-shell is see through so you can actually see the mechanics working.
''They are even going to put a little Mercedes badge by the wrist.''
Each finger is powered by an individual motor which allows the digits to move independently.
The hand is protected by an aluminium chassis-style casing which is capable of supporting a load of up to 90kg (14st).
Amazingly, it is even fitted with Bluetooth technology to allow Matthew to hook up to a computer wirelessly to track the strength and speed of his movements.
Matthew, from Wokingham, Berks., travelled to Touch Bionic's HQ in Livingston, Scotland, to take control of his new hand.
Matthew, who lives with his father Rob, 44, mum Tina, 42, said: ''I am actually looking forward to getting back to school so I can test it out, it's going to be so much fun.
''I like science and am planning to go into engineering but I used to struggle with lab experiments - now they should not be a problem.
''I also love sport but anything that involves two hands, like cricket, has always been a struggle but now I can compete with the other lads.
''It is really amazing technology and I am so grateful to Touch Bionics and Mercedes.''
After receiving the letter in June, Mercedes invited Matthew to their headquarters, where he toured the factory and met racing legend Michael Schumacher.
The company said they were unable to pay for the hand but agreed to help Matthew raise the money, by asking fans and sponsors to make donations.
Touch Bionics also agreed to fit the hand and train Matthew at their state of the art facilities for free, which would have otherwise cost £25,000.
Matthew was born with a congenital defect which meant his left arm only developed up to his wrist.
Incredibly, Matthew, who goes to the prestigious Reading School, is a brown belt in Karate and hopes to pursue a career as an engineer with F1.
Dad Rob, an IT consultant, said: ''We are so proud of him.
''He has wanted a Touch Bionics limb since he was young but we have never been able to afford it.
''He contacted Mercedes on his own volition and they were so impressed by his intelligence and maturity that they agreed to help.
''He has never let his disability get him down but he has also always strived to achieve his best and now he truly feels he can with the i-LIMB Pulse.
''It's about having the best tool available to allow him to live his life and get on with what he wants to do.''
Ruth Burns, spokeswoman for Touch Bionics, said the technology allowed patients to experience a wide range of natural movement.
She said: ''The hand works by taking instructions from the muscles in the residual limb. It's a case of a patient practising what muscles trigger the right movements.
''Patients can't sense touch but they can feel vibrations through the hand.
''Most patients find it hard to move the hand at first but Matthew has already progressed to several movements. He is very bright.''
Ross Brawn, who attended the same school as Matthew, said: ''Matthew's letter to the team was very touching.
''It was of particular personal significance given my close relationship to Reading School.
''Looking closely at the i-LIMB Pulse, we realised how much our technologies in Formula One had in common with those used to create this cutting-edge prosthetic limb.
''We realised we may be able to offer some synergies to Touch Bionics to assist their invaluable research.
''Meeting Matthew, and hearing first-hand how the new device would improve his quality of life, was a pleasure and I am delighted that our initial contact has now led to such a positive conclusion.''
Gallup: Obama job rating sinks below 40% for first time
President Obama leaves the Oval Office on Saturday on his way to play golf at Andrews Air Force Base. (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)
Michael A. Memoli
August 14, 2011, 10:31 a.m.
ILL WILL: Jailbird freed for heart transplant flung back in slammer for CVS theft
Saturday, August 13th 2011, 4:00 AM
A sticky-fingered Long Island woman who had been freed from jail so she could get a heart transplant may have given up a second chance at life - all for some diet pills and Crest Whitestrips.
Diane McCloud, 47, of Hempstead, showed up at court Friday for a hearing in her previous case and was arrested and jailed for stealing about $500 in toiletry items from a CVS store in July.
The CVS caper came after a judge halted a previous 15-month sentence for a petit larceny rap in January so she could get on a waiting list for a transplant.
It seemed like McCloud, who has end-stage heart disease, had gotten away with the CVS theft - until the stunning and potentially life-threatening reversal of fortune in Nassau County District Court.
Judge Francis Ricigliano, who had sprung her on the previous sentence, was furious she had shown him up a second time - and tossed her in jail.
"The heart transplant is off the table," said her lawyer, Leonard Isaacs, explaining that as an inmate, she no longer qualifies for the Medicaid that would have covered a transplant.
McCloud, who could be heard sobbing in court, travels with an I.V. drip that keeps her heart pumping.
She had been going to screenings at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan to get on a heart transplant list there.
"I don't know if she can medically survive another year. I hope she does, but it looks bleak," Isaacs said. "It's not the judge's fault. He was kind by giving her an opportunity to get a heart transplant."
After Ricigliano let McCloud out of jail, he had a change of tune in the spring when her doctors told the district attorney she was still smoking, a habit she had picked up when she was 13.
"I will resentence you to the maximum amount of jail, without any problem," he said then.
She was due in court Friday to present an affidavit from her cardiologist saying she was cigarette-free and participating in a smoking cessation program.
She pleaded guilty to the CVS theft and will have another six months tacked onto the remainder of her 15-month sentence, her lawyer said.
McCloud was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital when she complained of chest pains after the court appearance Friday. But she was expected to be rerouted to jail, her lawyer said.
Appeals Court Rules Against Obamacare Insurance Mandate
A federal appeals court panel on Friday struck down the requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul package that virtually all Americans must carry health insurance or face penalties.
The divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the so-called individual mandate, siding with 26 states that had sued to block the law. But the panel didn't go as far as a lower court that had invalidated the entire overhaul as unconstitutional.
The states and other critics argued the law violates people's rights, while the Justice Department countered that the legislative branch was exercising a "quintessential" power.
The decision, penned by Chief Judge Joel Dubina and Circuit Judge Frank Hull, found that "the individual mandate contained in the Act exceeds Congress's enumerated commerce power."
"What Congress cannot do under the Commerce Clause is mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die," the opinion said.
Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus disagreed in a dissent.
The 11th Circuit isn't the first appeals court to weigh in on the issue. The federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the government's new requirement that most Americans buy health insurance, and an appeals court in Richmond has heard similar legal constitutional challenges to the law.
But the Atlanta-based court is considered by many observers to be the most pivotal legal battleground yet because it reviewed a sweeping ruling by a Florida judge.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson's ruling not only struck down a requirement that nearly all Americans carry health insurance, but he also threw out other provisions ranging from Medicare discounts for some seniors to a change that allows adult children up to age 26 to remain on their parents' coverage.
The states urged the 11th Circuit to uphold Vinson's ruling, saying in a court filing that letting the law stand would set a troubling precedent that "would imperil individual liberty, render Congress's other enumerated powers superfluous, and allow Congress to usurp the general police power reserved to the states."
The Justice Department countered that Congress had the power to require most people to buy health insurance or face tax penalties because Congress has the authority to regulate interstate business. It said the legislative branch was exercising its "quintessential" rights when it adopted the new law.
During oral arguments in June, the three-judge panel repeatedly raised questions about the overhaul and expressed unease with the insurance requirement. Each of the three worried aloud if upholding the landmark law could open the door to Congress adopting other sweeping economic mandates.
The arguments unfolded in what's considered one of the nation's most conservative appeals courts. But the randomly selected panel represents different judicial perspectives. None of the three is considered either a stalwart conservative or an unfaltering liberal.
Dubina, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, is not considered to be as reflexively conservative as some of his colleagues. But he's been under particular scrutiny because of his daughter's outspoken opposition to the health care overhaul. U.S. Rep. Martha Dubina Roby, a Montgomery, Ala., Republican elected in November, voted to repeal the health care law.
Marcus and Hull were both tapped by President Bill Clinton to join the court. But Marcus was also previously appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan to serve on the Florida bench after several years as Miami's lead federal prosecutor. And Hull, a former county judge in Atlanta, is known for subjecting both sides of the counsel table to challenging questions.
Hey Libs, Face Facts: Obama's a Bad President
Student obsessed with Korean culture has tongue surgically lengthened on NHS to help her speak the language
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:16 AM on 12th August 2011
Student Rhiannon Brooksbank-Jones dreams of living and working in South Korea once she finishes university, even though she has never visited the country.
But while taking language lessons, the 19-year-old found that she couldn't pronounce certain crucial sounds in the Korean alphabet.
Her dentist suggested it may be because she was born with a slightly shorter than average tongue, caused by having an unusually thick lingual frenulum - the flap of skin that joins the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
Language barrier: Rhiannon Brooksbank-Jones, from Nottingham, had her tongue lengthened by 1cm to help her pronounce Korean words
After discussing the matter with her parents and language tutor, Rhiannon decided to undergo an operation to correct the condition, despite the fact it has never caused her any problems in speaking English.
She underwent a lingual frenectomy, which involves making an incision in the flap of skin. As a result, Rhiannon's tongue is now about 1cm longer, and she can say words that were impossible before.
Rhiannon, of Beeston, Nottingham, said: 'I'd been learning Korean for about two years, and my speaking level is now high, but I was really struggling with particular sounds.
'It became apparent after a little while that I was having trouble with the Korean letter 'L', which is very frequent and comes from a slightly higher place in the mouth than the English 'L', and that my tongue was too short.
'My pronunciation was very 'foreign', but now I can speak with a native Korean accent. The surgical procedure was my only option. It's not like you can stretch your tongue otherwise. I just decided enough was enough.
'For me it was an important thing, because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and if I can't do it perfectly, it really irritates me.
Mother tongue: Rhiannon became obsessed with Korean culture at school
'Some might say it's extreme, but you could apply the same argument to plastic surgery.
'That makes people feel more confident looks-wise, and this made me feel more confident language-wise. For me, it was like having a tooth pulled.'
Rhiannon is currently awaiting her A-level results, and hoping to study Korean Studies and Business Management at the University of Sheffield.
The four-year course includes a year at Yonsei University in the South Korean capital, Seoul.
She added: 'I think this will show real dedication. It will prove I'm not just going to drop out after a year.
'In Korea they like good students, and I think having my tongue lengthened will be a real help with the course, especially during my year in Seoul.
'I'd love to live and work in Korea one day and being able to speak perfectly will really benefit me.
'Native English speakers can earn quite a lot of money in Korea, so that's another option.'
The 20-minute operation was carried out at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre under local anaesthetic.
Being born with an unusually thick lingual frenulum - a condition known as Ankyloglossia, or commonly as 'Tongue Tie' - meant Rhiannon qualified for the procedure on the NHS.
She said: 'I was a bit nervous, and it was agony at first, but healed within two weeks, and I noticed the difference instantly. Suddenly I was able to pronounce words I had no hope of before.'
Rhiannon became interested in the Asian nation's culture through a friend at school.
The teenager said: 'She was into Korean pop and television programmes, which I would listen to and watch at her house.
'Most of my free time was soon taken up with Korean things. Now I visit a Korean Church in Nottingham, where I do bible readings in Korean, and can't wait to visit the country itself.
'Korean people can be quite reserved at first, but once you get to know them, they are very warmhearted. They'll do anything for you.'
Rhiannon's mother, Fiona Brooksbank-Jones, 56, said she supported her daughter in undergoing the procedure.
She added: 'As her parents, we welcome her interest in other parts of the world, and are very proud of her.
'I've heard of people having the condition corrected as babies, but never later in life. But we looked into it, and have backed her all the way.
'When she sets her mind to something, she usually goes for it wholeheartedly, and this was no different.'
Officials: Ex-inmate captured breaking back into prison
Marvin Lane Ussery, 48, was arrested on suspicion of being a felon on prison grounds.Ussery served time behind bars at New Folsom Prison, also known as California State Prison Sacramento, for robbery before he was granted parole in June 2009.
The prison houses mostly maximum-security inmates serving long sentences, or inmates who have been difficult to control at lower-security institutions.
Ussery's bicycle was parked near where he hopped the prison fence, prison officials said. Thirty corrections officers combed the prison yard for hidden contraband that the ex-inmate may have been trying to sneak in.
"We don't have any evidence of this in this case, but we have had incidents where former prisoners have snuck back onto the property to hide backpacks filled with drugs, alcohol or phones," Quinn said.
"Minimum-security prisoners then find those backpacks and try to smuggle the contraband into the prison," he said. Officers had not found smuggled contraband by Thursday afternoon.
Thursday, August 11th, 2011
Taco Bell worker arrested for handcuffing himself to woman he wanted to date
Times Free Press
A Taco Bell worker was arrested at his Dalton, Ga., home Wednesday night after he handcuffed another employee to himself in the restaurant parking lot.
On Monday night, 24-year-old Jason Dean pulled up next to the 18-year-old woman in the Ringgold, Ga., restaurant’s parking lot and handcuffed himself to her wrist, a police incident report states.
She called for help, and several other employees ran outside and talked Dean into letting her go, the report states.
Dean had been trying to go out with the woman for several weeks, and employees had changed her shift so she could avoid him, Ringgold Police Chief Dan Bilbrey said.
Dalton State College campus police arrested Dean two days later with the handcuffs in his possession, Bilbrey said.
Dean, believed to be a volunteer firefighter in Dalton, was charged with false imprisonment, which is a felony, Bilbrey said.
Girlfriend's text message trail ties burglary suspect to dozens of east Jefferson County cases
Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011, 12:25 PM Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011, 12:41 PM
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Alabama -- A Center Point man arrested in a Grayson Valley break-in this month is believed to be responsible for between 40 and 50 burglaries in eastern Jefferson County and Birmingham.
The crime spree, from May through August, was in part documented in a series of text messages between the suspected burglar and his girlfriend, who acted as a lookout, authorities said today.
Jason Glenn Pierce, 35, is charged with burglary. His girlfriend is a cooperating witnesses and has not been charged.
"They used cell phones to communicate by text message," said Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian. "It appears that she forgot to delete the text messages and has recorded an electronic history of this, and several other burglaries in the Center Point area over the past few months."
Deputies on Aug. 1 were called to a burglary in progress in the 1900 block of Carlisle Drive in the Grayson Valley area. A witness gave a description of a man and a woman and the vehicle they were driving.
Member of the sheriff's Street Crimes Unit found the vehicle and stopped it to talk to the driver. His clothes matched the description of the suspect, and there was a pry bar in the car.
Pierce told deputies he had just dropped off his girlfriend at her nearby home. Deputies picked her up and both were taken back to the scene and identified by the witness, Christian said.
Workers at a nearby recycling center confirmed the couple had been in earlier that day, and gave deputies a list of items they had sold.
The girlfriend, whose name has not been released, is cooperating with deputies, and has pointed out several homes to detectives where she acted as a lookout, Christian said.
"We have no indication she went into any of the homes and her cooperation has been key," he said.
The homes were vacant and copper appeared to be the primary motivation.
Pierce is out of jail on bond, but Christian said the investigation is ongoing and numerous additional charges are expected.
"This suspect and others have been just raping communities on vacant-home copper thefts so hats off to our Street Crimes Unit. The thousands of dollars in damage they have caused compared to the few hundred dollars they sell the copper for is ridiculous," Christian said.
"We will push hard for a judge to order them to pay for the damage through restitution to the victims. If they can't pay for the damage surely that will mean significant jail time. We really appreciate the log kept on the cell phone. That made it pretty easy once we had that. Like a thief keeping a diary."
Candace Kiley Beats 12-Year-Old Girl for Eying Her Boyfriend
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
August 9, 2011 4:00 A.M.
Ten TSA Outrages
The Transporation Security Agency has engaged in absurd searches.
After 9/11, airport security quite rightly became an issue of paramount concern. Yet since its creation in 2001, the Transport Security Administration has repeatedly walked a fine line between vital vigilance and gratuitous intrusion. Security expert Bruce Schneier famously referred to the current system as bordering on “security theater,” in which the measures taken are more officious than efficient. This tendency toward such blunt theatrics has only been magnified by the “enhanced screening procedures” introduced in November 2010. Ron Paul, ever the champion of the individual, described the new system as “appalling” and “abusive.” There is no doubt that many of those who have fallen afoul of its excesses would agree.
1. Disabled four-year-old Ryan Thomas was on the way to Disney World when he was accosted by TSA agents at Philadelphia Airport and forced to walk through the scanner without his leg-braces. This wasn’t the easiest request to honor, as Ryan’s “ankles [were] malformed and his legs [had] little or no muscle tone.” His mother’s attempts to explain this to the screeners fell on deaf ears. The TSA eventually conceded that Ryan should have been privately checked, but only after the boy’s father got thePhiladelphia Enquirer involved.
2. Elderly business traveler Penny Moroney described her TSA experience at St. Louis as “like being raped.” She had metal artificial knees and was thus eligible for a pat-down, during which the agent “touched her breasts . . . and patted her genitals.” The experience left her “shaking and crying.” Under any other circumstances, said Moroney, “it would be considered criminal sexual assault.”
3. Flying while pregnant can be uncomfortable enough, but for one diabetic traveler who did not want to be named for fear of “retaliation,” her day was about to get much worse. TSA agents at Denver International Airport considered the woman so much of a “risk for explosives” that they confiscated her insulin. When the woman asked for the names of the agents to make a complaint, they “scattered” and “left [her] crying at the TSA checkpoint.”
4. Former Baywatchstar and Playboyplaymate Donna D’Errico felt singled out at LAX when a TSA agent told her that she had been chosen for a security search “because you caught my eye and [the other passengers] didn’t.” The officer — who did not give D’Errico the customary choice between a scan and a pat-down — “was smiling and whispering with two other TSA agents and glaring at me,” she complained. “It is my personal belief that they pulled me aside because they thought I was attractive.” Somewhere, Lord Acton is nodding sagely.
5. TSA officials clearly have a high regard for the planning skills of eight-month-old babies. So much so that they subjected one to a full body pat-down and scan. This so amused pastor Jacob Jester that he took a photograph at Kansas City International Airport and posted it on Twitter. “I think in most cases, babies don’t pose a threat to security,” said Jester. One would think.
6. A 95-year-old wheelchair-bound woman with late-stage cancer was given a full pat-down before boarding a flight from Florida to Michigan. Officers were not satisfied, however, until they had forced her to remove her adult diaper. “We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally, according to proper procedure and did not require this passenger to remove an adult diaper,” concluded the TSA report. That is true, providing, of course, that she didn’t want to get onto the plane.
7. The “pat or scan” choice usually proffered to air travelers was rendered moot for a female Army veteran when the body scanner showed her wearing a sanitary towel, and prompted a “horrible experience.” As a result of the image, she was “subjected to a search so invasive that [she] was left crying and dealing with memories that [she] thought had been dealt with years ago of prior sexual assaults.”
8. Drew Mandy was also on his way to Disney World when agents at Detroit Metro Airport started questioning him about his adult diaper and confiscated the six-inch toy plastic hammer he has carried for comfort for 20 years. Drew was unable to comprehend what was happening, because, though he is 29, he has the mental capacity of a two-year-old. When his father, a doctor, tried to step in and explain that his son was mentally challenged, he was met with an assurance that the staff “knew what [they] were doing.” Sadly, that seems to be true.
9. Susie Castillo’s tearful testimony went viral on YouTube, after the former Miss USA reacted with outrage to a pat-down at Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport. Castillo complained that she was being given an unacceptable choice, between being “molested” and walking through a machine that is “unhealthy and dangerous.” She claimed that the TSA agent “actually felt, touched my vagina.” “It’s not just about my rights,” she said, “it’s about all rights; the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is being violated.” Amen.
10. Eliana Sutherland was travelling from Orlando International Airport when she was singled out because of her large breasts. “It was pretty obvious,” said Sutherland. “One of the guys that was staring me up and down was the one who pulled me over. Not a comfortable feeling.”
— Charlie Cooke is an editorial intern at National Review.
August 9, 2011
The NAACP's Betrayal of Blacks
Are you folks as sick of reading my articles on this topic as I am of writing them? Just as Ronald Reagan said to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 debate, I say to the NAACP, "Well, there you go again" -- more distortions, lies, and tired old "we shall overcome" 1950s rhetoric.
Tragically, this once-great organization has been hijacked by far-left, radical, America-hating socialists. Thus, the NAACP is relentless in its efforts to portray American race relations as having progressed very little since the 1950s -- ignoring obvious evidence to the contrary, like a black first family occupying the White House.
The NAACP's modus operandi is simple, a one-trick pony. Their strategy is to despicably declare every issue and all opposition "racist."
Along with their daily attempts to brand the Tea Party racist, here is the NAACP's latest attempt to use race-baiting to get out the black vote for Obama in 2012.
Rev. William Barber, president of the NAACP's North Carolina conference, said, "We must fight against any attempt to segregate, isolate, and steal the black vote." This is a perfect example of tired old "we shall overcome" 1950s rhetoric. Who on earth is stifling the black vote? If such an initiative were true, wouldn't the Obama-worshiping media be all over the story? So what the heck is this race-baiting preacher talking about?
Rev. Barber's statement is nothing more than tried and true words guaranteed to evoke a knee-jerk hateful response in brain-dead black racist ideologues.
Rev. Barber is responding to states demanding that voters show proper ID, which -- surprise, surprise -- the NAACP has deemed racist.
Can someone please explain to me how requiring voters to confirm that they are who they say they are, live where they say they live, and are U.S. citizens has a racial component?
I do see a racial component from the NAACP's point of view. They are, in essence, saying that blacks are too stupid to find their way to the DMV and other places to acquire legal ID. One could argue that if blacks are that stupid, why on earth should they be allowed to vote?
I'm being sarcastic, but you get my point. These so-called advocates for blacks and other minorities do a tremendous disservice to the very people they claim to care about. Imagine the negative impact on your self-esteem when you are constantly told you do not measure up and need standards lowered in order to be successful. The left sends this message to blacks all the time. This is called the soft bigotry of low expectations.
I have also noticed how the NAACP and others on the left use the black church and black ministers to sell liberal political candidates and their socialistic agenda to black America. This is particularly hypocritical and obnoxious, considering the left's disdain for all things Christian and their banning of God from the public square.
Courting the black vote, Hillary Clinton ran to the black church during her presidential campaign. Hillary transformed herself in an instant into Rev. Soul Sista Clinton. Evoking her best attempt at a black dialect, she orated, "I don't feel noways tired!" The all-black congregation erupted with applause.
Imagine what would happen to a white Republican attempting to sound black while addressing a black congregation. Boys and girls, can you say "politically tarred and feathered"?
"Can you believe that cracker trying to sound black?" -- that would be the outcry of outraged black parishioners.
As a lifelong black PK (preacher's kid), I know from whence I speak when I say ministers are held in the highest regard in the black community. This is why I find it quite despicable every time the left uses black ministers to "herd" blacks into the direction of their socialistic agenda. This tactic is an ungodly betrayal.
Rev. Barber, Rev Sharpton, and Rev. Wright, to name only a few, are nothing more than liberal plantation overseers and black civil rights mafia enforcers. They punish any black who dares to display independent thought, success via conservatism, and love for his country.
Black conservatives such as myself are vilified as traitors to our race and even threatened with bodily harm. More often than not, driven by our faith, our goal is to liberate follow blacks from self-induced limitations. We strive to open black America's eyes to the reality that they are extremely blessed to have been born in America, the greatest land of opportunity on the planet for all who choose to go for it!
Meanwhile, the NAACP and certain so-called black men of God are doing severe damage to their flock. Make no mistake about it: selling racial hatred blended with victim and entitlement mindsets is poison -- an anathema to the human spirit, individual success, and happiness.
Don Corleone in The Godfather cautioned his son Michael to expect an attempt on his life. The experienced old father added that his son's enemy would use a dear, longtime friend as the betrayer.
This same scenario is happening in the black community. The left is using the black community's dear, longtime friends to betray them -- the iconic NAACP and the highly esteemed black ministry. They are infusing black Americans with racial hate via race-profiteering to sell their anti American socialistic agenda.
Despite their rhetoric, much of the modern-day civil rights movement ceased being about black empowerment and freedom many moons ago. Their once noble movement has become all about power and control, which is extremely unfortunate.
Little Miss Laughter: Seven-year-old can't stop giggling since surgeons removed her brain tumour
Last updated at 7:26 PM on 8th August 2011
Life has literally been a laugh a minute for Enna Stephens following surgery to remove a brain tumour – thanks to a bizarre side-effect of the operation.
The seven-year-old has been giggling uncontrollably for a month, and her chuckles have helped parents Vana and Dougie cope with her illness.
Mrs Stephens, 40, said: ‘Things happened so quickly that Dougie and I were numb.
Happy days: Vanna and Doug Stephens with daughter Enna. They said her giggles helped them see life more positively
'We’d visit Enna in hospital and try to put on a brave face but inside we were crushed.
‘But once she started giggling we found ourselves doing the same. It was so infectious, and just a great way of releasing our emotions.’
Enna’s giggles are due to pseudobulbar affect, a neurological disorder caused by nerve damage.
The condition, which affects up to five per cent of brain surgery patients, leaves sufferers unable to control their emotions.
Surgery: Enna had a tumour behind her eye. Doctors say there is an 80% chance it won't return
Mrs Stephens, a police administrator from Cleveland, said: ‘We were told by doctors that most patients who have a brain tumour removed feel depressed or angry afterwards.
‘But when Enna came round she was giggling and it just carried on. She would giggle all the time – anything would set her off.
'She would giggle for 15 minutes at a time. She laughed the most in the first three weeks but she still giggles a lot.
‘Once she starts she can’t stop. Her best joke is when her grandma holds a banana like a phone.’
Doctors think the giggling will gradually subside.
They diagnosed Enna’s tumour after an optician noticed there was swelling behind her left eye in June.
The youngster was operated on the following month at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and now faces 16 months of chemo and radiotherapy.
But surgeons are confident they have removed all the cancer and say there is an 80 per cent chance it will not come back.
Much better: Enna has much to smile about after her delicate brain surgery was a success
Enna's giggles have now calmed down so she only laughs when she finds something funny.
She still faces 16 months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment and is on a range of medication.
However the keen ballet dancer is now well enough to put on her dancing shoes again.
Her father Dougie, 44, a team leader at Warburton's bakery, said:
'We know we all need to stay positive. Enna is very positive too. She is a very brave little kid.
'The doctors have been amazed and just how strong she has managed to remain, and we are so proud of her.
'Despite everything that has happened we have just had to keep hope that it is something that will make us all stronger.'
'You have to always think positively and try to make it as happy as experience as possible.
Luckily she seems to be doing that by herself.
| Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2011 5:21 pm
AMBRIDGE — After she allowed her 6-year-old niece to create a demolition derby in an Ambridge parking lot, an Aliquippa woman was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, according to an Ambridge police report.
The child driver struck two cars in the Ambridge Area High School lot, pushing one of them over the curb, across the sidewalk and into a car parked along Duss Avenue, according to police.
The 6-year-old girl was unhurt, and the three cars she struck were unoccupied. Police said one of the vehicles incurred “severe front and rear damage” and was towed from the scene.
Rebecca Karen Beatty, 54, of 1043 Irwin St., was also charged with reckless endangerment and permitting an unauthorized person to drive after the incident at 8:01?p.m. June 10, according to the complaint written by Sgt. Brian Jameson.
Jameson told Beatty “her decision was poor.”
Beatty told police she was collecting her niece from a dance program at the school. When she returned to the parking lot, an adjacent car had parked so close to Beatty’s car that Beatty could not enter through the driver’s side.
Beatty asked Cheyenne Beatty, her 6-year-old niece, to get behind the wheel and back the car out of the parking space, according to Jameson’s report.
“(The girl) immediately lost control,” Jameson wrote.
Massive Riots: Britain Today, America Tomorrow?
Aug 9 2011, 2:28 PM ET
The real causes are more insidious. It is no coincidence that the worst violence London has seen in many decades takes place against the backdrop of a global economy poised for freefall. The causes of recession set out by J K Galbraith in his book, The Great Crash 1929, were as follows: bad income distribution, a business sector engaged in "corporate larceny", a weak banking structure and an import/export imbalance.
All those factors are again in play. In the bubble of the 1920s, the top 5 per cent of earners creamed off one-third of personal income. Today, Britain is less equal, in wages, wealth and life chances, than at any time since then. Last year alone, the combined fortunes of the 1,000 richest people in Britain rose by 30 per cent to £333.5 billion.
Europe's leaders, our own Prime Minister and Chancellor included, were parked on sun-loungers as London burned. Although the epicentre of the immediate economic crisis is the eurozone, successive British governments have colluded in incubating the poverty, the inequality and the inhumanity now exacerbated by financial turmoil.
...Watch the juvenile wrecking crews on the city streets and weep for all our futures. The "lost generation" is mustering for war.
London's riots are not the Tupperware troubles of Greece or Spain, where the middle classes lash out against their day of reckoning. They are the proof that a section of young Britain - the stabbers, shooters, looters, chancers and their frightened acolytes - has fallen off the cliff-edge of a crumbling nation.
The failure of the markets goes hand in hand with human blight. Meanwhile, the view is gaining ground that social democracy, with its safety nets, its costly education and health care for all, is unsustainable in the bleak times ahead. The reality is that it is the only solution. After the Great Crash, Britain recalibrated, for a time. Income differentials fell, the welfare state was born and skills and growth increased.
That exact model is not replicable, but nor, as Adam Smith recognised, can a well-ordered society ever develop when a sizeable number of its members are miserable and, as a consequence, dangerous. This is not a gospel of determinism, for poverty does not ordain lawlessness. Nor, however, is it sufficient to heap contempt on the rioters as if they are a pariah caste.
One of the most tragic aspects of London's meltdowns is that we need this ruined generation if Britain is ever to feel prosperous and safe again. If there are no jobs for today's malcontents and no means to exploit their skills, then the UK is in graver trouble than it thinks....
Financial crashes and human catastrophes are cyclical. Each reoccurrence threatens to be graver than the last. As Galbraith wrote, "memory is far better than the law" in protecting against financial illusion and insanity. In an age of austerity, there are diverse luxuries that Britain can no longer afford. Amnesia stands high on that long list.
Conn. man hijacked woman's Facebook, e-mail accounts; demanded naked pictures as ransom: cops
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, August 10th 2011, 9:28 AM
John Joaquim, 19, of Monroe, Conn., allegedly broke into the 20-year-old woman's accounts and sent her messages on June 14 demanding the steamy pics as ransom, cops said.
The woman complained to police, who tracked the messages and identified Joaquim as a suspect, cops said.
Joaquim turned himself in on Monday and was charged with extortion and computer crimes.
Friends of the victim, who was not identified, said she was shaken up by the incident.
"She feels pretty violated," pal Katii Durrell told WTNH television.
Joaquim was released on $7,500 bond and is due back in court on Aug. 17.
Online push for Bert, Ernie to have gay wedding on 'Sesame Street'
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, August 9th 2011, 6:54 PM
An online campaign to pressure the producers of "Sesame Street" into having lovable roommates Bert and Ernie get married is gathering steam.
Getting hitched would change things for Ernie, who has long sang about how his bath toy, Rubber Duckie, "was the one."
More than 700 people have signed on to the petition, posted at change.org.
"We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful," reads the petition for the muppet merger. "It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different."
A debate over the sexuality of Sesame Street's most famous duo has dogged the show since Bert and Ernie first appeared in 1969. The puppet pair sleep next to each other and bicker almost as much as a married couple.
But the producers of Sesame Street say Bert and Ernie's relationship is purely platonic.
"Bert and Ernie are best friends," the non-profit Sesame Workshop said in a statement. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.
"Even though the Sesame Street Muppets ... possess many human traits and characteristics, they have no sexual orientation."
Guy steals $21 million of lunar rocks to have ‘sex on the moon’
August 8, 2011
We don’t know how we missed this story, but a few years ago, a NASA intern was convicted of moon rock theft—specifically, he stole moon rocks so he could have sex with his girlfriend on them.
Author Ben Mezrich, who also wrote The Accidental Network (which was turned into the movie The Social Network), recently published Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History and described the events of the book to CTV.
In brief, a few years ago, Thad Roberts, who was in love with his girlfriend of three weeks, decided to show her a grand, romantic gesture by stealing moon rocks so they could jam the rocks under their motel room mattress and have sex on the moon. Because Roberts interned at NASA, he didn’t have to go far for his moon rocks … but he had to circumvent NASA’s security system, a heist worthy of Ocean’s 11.
Of course, things went wrong for our sexonaut when he decided to sell the moon rocks on the Internet.
“He really wasn’t a criminal,” said Mezrich. “He didn’t think through the after-effects. I asked him dozens of times over the year, ‘How did you think you were going to get away with this?’ And he said it just wasn’t part of the thought process. … He only thought of it as a college prank; he thought, ‘Even if I do get caught, what’s the worst they’ll do to me?”
What “they” did to him was send him to a federal prison for seven and a half years.
LINK TO STORY:
Limbaugh on Market Collapse: Obama Engineering the Decline of America
Monday, 08 Aug 2011 06:17 PM
Two widows with the same husband fight legal battle in Pinellas over survivor's benefits
Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG — Shortly after a young inmate killed her prison guard husband, Julia Ann Hesson filed for survivor's benefits.
But the Ohio woman didn't expect the response from the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Office, a national program that dispenses death benefits to families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
The office denied Hesson's claim, saying another woman deserved the benefit award of more than $150,000.
That woman's name is Julie Keady Hesson. She's 41 and lives in St. Petersburg. She had been married to William Hesson, too. In fact, officials said, the two never divorced.
The Ohio woman, 29, is appealing the board's decision, and the intriguing case is now making its way through civil court in Pinellas County.
• • •
William Lynn Hesson married Julie Keady in winter 1995 in North Carolina. Four years later, they split up. The couple was living in Hawaii at the time, where William Hesson was stationed in the Army.
Julie Keady Hesson left for New York. She tried to file for divorce.
But according to court documents, her attempts failed because she couldn't serve him with papers.
Five years later, in 2004, William married another woman: Julia Ann Bernhardt. The couple have two children together.
On April 29, 2009, William Hesson, who was working as a guard at a Cleveland-area juvenile correctional facility, was killed at work.
In January 2010, a teen inmate at the facility pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, admitting that he struck the 39-year-old guard with a fatal blow to the chest during some horseplay.
Then Julia Ann Hesson found out she wasn't her husband's only widow.
"Mr. Hesson never informed the plaintiff of his previous marriage to the defendant," court documents state.
• • •
Both women made their case to the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Office. In February, officials determined Julie Keady Hesson, who by now had moved to St. Petersburg, was William Hesson's legal spouse, awarding her $157,873.
But Julia Ann Hesson, in a six-page complaint filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, argues that Julie Keady Hesson held herself out as divorced from her estranged husband for the past decade.
To prove that, she is asking the court to grant a "pure bill of discovery," allowing her access to evidence that would show the St. Petersburg woman behaved as if she was divorced for the past 10 years.
The benefits office found in favor of Julie Keady Hesson, "even though the defendant has admitted to having no contact with Mr. Hesson since their estrangement in 1999," Julia Ann Hesson's complaint states. "Documentation is necessary to prove that the defendant has held herself out as being divorced."
Ohio lawyer Matthew Hunt, who represents Julia Ann Hesson, declined to talk about the lawsuit.
But the first wife's attorney did offer up a few more details about the situation.
St. Petersburg attorney Bob Heyman said his client, Julie Keady Hesson, also had two children with William Hesson.
He said she raised them without the support of their father.
"She raised his children by herself," Heyman said. "She has not had the benefit of child support for 10 years."
Heyman said Julie Keady Hesson stands by the hearing officer's decision.
"She understands Julia Hesson's circumstances," he said. "Unfortunately, it was the result of a bigamous marriage."
Hot Wheel that's TOO HOT for kids
7:42 PM, Aug 8, 2011
MARIETTA, Ga. -- Like many little boys his age, 3-year-old Carter Vaughn of Marietta loves playing with his toy cars and trucks.
But he won't be playing with one of his newer ones any more.
His mom has taken away a Mattel Matchbox tow truck, but not because of anything Carter did.
"Very shocked; it kinda made me mad," Mandy Vaughn told 11Alive News on Monday.
That was her reaction after she jokingly asked her mother to call the phone number printed on the fender of the toy tow truck that she'd given her grandson.
"I called the number and I got a real shocker," said Jan Barnett.
"It was a sex line," Carter's grandmother added.
We called it, too, and sure enough, it is.
Barnett realizes her 3-year-old grandson doesn't understand, but she worries about kids who aren't so young.
"If it had been an older child, you know, they could have known to call the number," said Barnett.
"What if they came and said, 'Hey, mommy, I can talk to hot girls'," she said.
Mattel was not aware of the issue until 11Alive News contacted them Monday afternoon.
Company spokesperson Rachel Cooper e-mailed us this statement:
"We apologize that this has happened. Mattel's products are designed with children and their best interests in mind. Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety - it is our number one priority. The Matchbox GMC Tow Truckvehicle was released in 2000 and is no longer manufactured. Mattel has a policy in place prohibiting the inclusion of phone numbers on toys."
Mattel points out most of these tow truckmodels are now sold on secondary markets like auctions.
Who knows, it might become a collector's item.
LINK TO VIDEO AND PHOTO:
Did Newsweek choose Michele Bachmann cover photo to make her ‘look crazy’?
Senior Media Reporter
Another Newsweek cover controversy is brewing--and once again, it involves women.
A month after editor-in-chief Tina Brown Photoshopped the late Princess Diana walking alongside Kate Middleton onto the cover of Newsweek, sparking outrage among fans, Brown is drawing the ire of the tea party for selecting a photo of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for Newsweek's cover that makes the 2012 Republican hopeful look, well, crazy.
The photo of Bachmann, shot in Washington on Aug. 1 by photographer Chris Buck, accompanies a cover story by Lois Romano entitled "The Queen of Rage." (Newsweek tweeted the cover image late Sunday with the #QueenOfRage hashtag.)
Reached via e-mail, Alice Stewart, Bachmann's press secretary, declined to comment. "We are focused on meeting with the people of Iowa in advance of the Straw Poll," she wrote in an email to The Cutline. And Bachmann brushed off a question about the cover from a voter in Iowa.
Conservative media pundits, though, were more than happy to respond.
"Under the editorial control of Tina Brown, the rice paper magazine barely struggles against its bias towards conservative women to view them with anything other than contempt," Dana Loesch wrote on Andrew Breitbart's BigJournalism.com.
It's not the first time that Newsweek has drawn the ire of conservatives--and women--over a candidate's cover photo. In 2008, Newsweek published an extreme close-up of Sarah Palin on its cover, sparking criticism.
"Memo to conservative women," Ed Morrissey wrote on HotAir.com. "When approached by Newsweek or Time for a cover story, always bring your own photographer."
In 2009, Newsweek published an old photo of Palin in running shorts--alongside the coverline "How do you solve a problem like Sarah Palin?"--prompting more outrage among conservatives. (Palin herself denounced the selection of the photo--from a Runner's World shoot--in a note to her Facebook fans: "The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now.")
But critics charge that the newsweekly is using more than just its cover image to editorialize about Bachmann and the basis of her popular appeal. An interior image--featuring Bachmann at a campaign stop and also taken by Buck--was shot from an angle that shows the conservative candidate with devil horn.
"Newsweek needs to be ashamed for propagating one of the typical female stereotypes used to denigrate women," a commenter on Newsweek.com wrote. "If you don't like Bachmann's positions, say so. But to slot her in the typical witch, bitch, nut, or slut memes hurts all women!"
A spokesman for Newsweek declined to comment on the controversy.
Brown defended her decision to Photoshop the image of the late Princess Diana onto the July 4 cover. "We wanted to bring the memory of Diana alive in a vivid image that transcends time," Brown said then in a statement to The Cutline, "and reflected my piece." Newsweek's newsstand sales are up roughly 30 percent since its redesign under Brown debuted in March.
The Newsweek Bachmann cover controversy also recalls a 2008 incident in which The Atlantic apologized to Arizona senator and presidential hopeful John McCain for hiring a freelance photographer--Jill Greenberg--who used a strobe light to create shadows on his face during a cover shoot. "He had no idea he was being lit from below," Greenberg told Photo District News after The Atlantic issue was published.
Greenberg created her own Photoshopped images from the McCain shoot for her personal website, including one of an ape defecating on McCain's head.
"She has, in fact, disgraced herself, and we are appalled by the manipulated images of John McCain she has created for her Web site," the Atlantic wrote in an editor's note. "Obviously, we will not work with her again."
UPDATE: "Michele Bachmann's intensity is galvanizing voters in Iowa right now," Brown said in a statement to The Cutline. "Newsweek's cover captures that."
How Sarah Palin Got a AAA Credit Rating for Alaska
Aug 8 2011, 9:01 AM ET
In light of Friday's decision by Standard and Poor's to downgrade the United States' credit rating to AA+, it's worth mentioning again -- as I first did in this Atlantic piece -- that Alaska recently had its bond rating raised to AAA for the first time in the state's history, largely due to fiscal improvements brought about by Sarah Palin while she was governor. The state currently enjoys a $12 billion budget surplus. I was reminded of this fact over the weekend by Ian Lazaren, the indefatigable supporter-cultist behind Conservatives4Palin.com.
Image credit: Brian Frank/Reuters
Howard Dean says Tea Party has been 'smoking some of that tea, not just drinking it'
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, August 7th 2011, 11:56 AM
The former Democratic National Chairman said the group was to blame for the debate which held the country on edge for weeks and greatly damaged the American economy.
"This is a Tea Party problem," the fiery politician said. "They are totally unreasonable and doctrinaire and not founded in reality.
"I think they've been smoking some of that tea, not just drinking it."
He also warned that even Republicans were being held hostage by the strict debt-reduction group that swept through Congress in the last mid-term elections.
"The American people are there, Democrats are there. A lot of reasonable Republicans are there," he said. "But they are terrified of these right-wing splinter groups, the radical right, because they are so powerful in the primaries."
Dean said he thinks the downgrade in America's credit store by Standard & Poor's could turn out to be a good thing because it could help Democrats earn enough political capital to do what everyone has been too politically shy to attempt: raise taxes.
With America in such deep financial trouble, he pointed out even some Republicans acknowledge that there has to be a new form of revenue coming in if America wants to make any kind of progress on the massive debt overtaking the country.
"This is ridiculous what's going on here," he said.
Dean is not the first Democrat to openly question the Tea Party's sanity. Earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden reportedly likened compromising with them to negotiating with terrorists.
Sensei Keiko Fukuda at 98 years old teaches hand techniques to her Judo students at the women's dojo in San Francisco's Noe Valley. Fukuda is the only living student of judo's founder Jigoro Kano who opened
'Swatting' prank sends police to unsuspecting residents
This photo shows the door that police broke through after they received a false report of a possible murder taking place inside a North Toronto apartment, July 14, 2011. (Courtesy of Jason Myles)
Geoff Nixon, CTV News.ca Staff
Date: Saturday Aug. 6, 2011 7:46 PM ET
Police kicked down the door of a North Toronto apartment last month after a caller warned them about a "possible murder" taking place inside.
But all they found was a guy wearing noise-cancelling headphones who had the misfortune to be working from home that day.
"I didn't hear them knocking or banging on the door saying: ‘Please open up,'" said software consultant Jason Myles, describing the incident to CTVNews.ca in a recent telephone interview.
"The first thing I heard was when they attempted to kick down the door."
The headphones drowned out the initial commotion and by the time Myles heard the kicks, it was too late for the door.
When Myles came face to face with the law, he put his hands up and found "a number of police officers pointing their weapons in my general direction."
He was handcuffed and police quickly searched his apartment, which is located in the Yonge and Lawrence area.
But there was no body to be found and the only victim was Myles, who was the unfortunate target of a prank phonecall to police.
"Immediately they knew that nobody was murdered in the apartment or about to be murdered, so they picked me up off the ground, uncuffed me, then we spent the next couple of hours trying to figure out why they were in my apartment and why they came to this address," said Myles.
They determined that someone had contacted 911 from a landline number that Myles had cancelled about two weeks before police arrived at his apartment looking for a murder that didn't occur.
Myles believes he was a victim of something called "swatting," a prank in which a caller reports a fake emergency with the intent of getting police to mobilize a SWAT team.
In this case, it wasn't a SWAT team that arrived at Myles' door, but uniformed officers, as well as firefighters and paramedics who also responded to the scene.
"They were expecting a lot of violence and therefore probably needed their assistance," said Myles, who noted that the caller told police that at least one victim was involved.
An emerging trend in Canada?
Myles read an article about a similar case that happened in British Columbia last month, and as far as he can tell, it appears that this was the exact same type of prank.
In the case targeting his Toronto apartment, it appears the prankster "spoofed" the number on the call that went into police, likely through a computer or voice-over-Internet protocol setup, which has been used in dozens of other incidents in the United States.
"Somebody spoofed that number calling 911, somehow, and what they told police on the 911 call was that they had just killed their mother and were about to kill their sister," said Myles.
"And since they spoofed that number, the number was still registered to my name and address, so that's where they came."
But he has no idea why his number was selected for use in the apparent swatting prank.
"I don't know if the number was targeted because it was recently cancelled, or whether they just targeted a number at random, or whether they had inside information as to what numbers were currently or recently in use," said Myles.
"I have no clue as to why they picked that number."
Police subsequently apologized for what had happened and made arrangements to pay for the damage to the door.
Toronto police Const. Tony Vella said that while the July 14 call was determined to be a hoax, he said that all such emergency calls have to be treated seriously.
"As soon as a call is made to police, they will always send a police car to investigate," Vella told CTVNews.ca in a recent telephone interview.
For his part, Myles has "no issues" with the way police handled the situation and was impressed by their bravery.
"They came through that door expecting a very serious situation and they came through that door anyway," Myles said.
"So I have nothing but respect for the police and for how they acted and what they did."
Las Vegas man known as 'Spam King' accused of sending more than 27M spam messages on Facebook
FILE - Sanford Wallace, president of Cyber Promotions, poses with his computer and cans of Spam processed meat in Dresher, Pa, in this May 8, 1997 file photo. Wallace, the self-proclaimed "Spam King," pleaded not guilty during an initial court appearance Thursday Aug. 4, 2011 after being indicted July 6 on six counts of electronic mail fraud, three counts of intentional damage to a protected computer and two counts of criminal contempt. The indictment filed in San Jose federal court said Wallace compromised about 500,000 Facebook accounts between November 2008 and March 2009 by sending massive amounts of spam through the company's servers on three separate occasions. (AP Photo/Dan Loh) (DAN LOH, AP / May 8, 1997)
4:52 a.m. CDT, August 6, 2011
7 Spelling and Grammar Errors that Make You Look Dumb
Don’t let these easy-to-fix spelling and grammar mistakes make you look unprofessional.
In business, excellence is indeed worth striving for. Make sure all of your communications hold to high standards, because misspellings and bad grammar can hold you back in your career.
Many brilliant people have some communication weak spots. Unfortunately, the reality is that written communication is a big part of business, and how you write reflects on you. Poor spelling and grammar can destroy a professional image in an instant.
Even if your job doesn't require much business writing, you'll still have emails to send and notes to write. And if you're looking for a job, your cover letters and resumes will likely mean the difference between getting the interview or not.
Bad grammar and spelling make a bad impression. Don't let yourself lose an opportunity over a simple spelling or grammar mistake.
Here are seven simple grammatical errors that I see consistently in emails, cover letters and resumes.
Tip: Make yourself a little card cheat sheet and keep it in your wallet for easy reference.
You're / Your
The apostrophe means it's a contraction of two words; "you're" is the short version of "you are" (the "a" is dropped), so if your sentence makes sense if you say "you are," then you're good to use you're. "Your" means it belongs to you, it's yours.
You're going to love your new job!
It's / Its
This one is confusing, because generally, in addition to being used in contractions, an apostrophe indicates ownership, as in "Dad's new car." But, "it's" is actually the short version of "it is" or "it has." "Its" with no apostrophe means belonging to it.
It's important to remember to bring your telephone and its extra battery.
They're / Their / There
"They're" is a contraction of "they are." "Their" means belonging to them. "There" refers to a place (notice that the word "here" is part of it, which is also a place – so if it says here and there, it's a place). There = a place
They're going to miss their teachers when they leave there.
Loose / Lose
These spellings really don't make much sense, so you just have to remember them. "Loose" is the opposite of tight, and rhymes with goose. "Lose" is the opposite of win, and rhymes with booze. (To show how unpredictable English is, compare another pair of words, "choose" and "chose," which are spelled the same except the initial sound, but pronounced differently. No wonder so many people get it wrong!)
I never thought I could lose so much weight; now my pants are all loose!
Lead / Led
Another common but glaring error. "Lead" means you're doing it in the present, and rhymes with deed. "Led" is the past tense of lead, and rhymes with sled. So you can "lead" your current organization, but you "led" the people in your previous job.
My goal is to lead this team to success, just as I led my past teams into winning award after award.
A lot / Alot / Allot
First the bad news: there is no such word as "alot." "A lot" refers to quantity, and "allot" means to distribute or parcel out.
There is a lot of confusion about this one, so I'm going to allot ten minutes to review these rules of grammar.
Between you and I
This one is widely misused, even by TV news anchors who should know better.
In English, we use a different pronoun depending on whether it's the subject or the object of the sentence: I/me, she/her, he/him, they/them. This becomes second nature for us and we rarely make mistake with the glaring excepion of when we have to choose between "you and I" or "you and me."
Grammar Girl does a far better job of explaining this than I, but suffice to say that "between you and I" is never correct, and although it is becoming more common, it's kind of like saying "him did a great job." It is glaringly incorrect.
The easy rule of thumb is to replace the "you and I" or "you and me" with either "we" or "us" and you'll quickly see which form is right. If "us" works, then use "you and me" and if "we" works, then use "you and I."
Between you and me (us), here are the secrets to how you and I (we) can learn to write better.
Master these common errors and you'll remove some of the mistakes and red flags that make you look like you have no idea how to speak.
Mother Accused Of Holding 10-Year-Old Bully While Twin 7-Year-Old Daughters Get Revenge
Madness At Peekskill Youth Center; Father Accused Of Hitting Bully With Chair
August 2, 2011 9:45 PM
Samuel Randolph, left, and Latena Fitzgerald stand accused of helping their twin 7-year-old girls attack a bully. (Photo: CBS 2)
PEEKSKILL, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police said it was no way to resolve a conflict.
A youth center worker and his wife, worried about bullying, face charges for helping their daughters fight back, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reports.
Latena Fitzgerald denied any wrongdoing after a dispute at Peekskill’s Kiley Youth Center, where she took her 7-year-old twins, Aniya and Amiya, to confront a 10-year-old girl over alleged bullying.
“I did not even touch her! Only thing I said to her was to leave my kids alone,” she said.
Police said words got heated and then things turned physical.
“The 10-year-old alleges she was held by the mother of the other girls, and the parents allowed their two daughters to assault her while she was being held,” Peekskill Police Chief Gene Tumolo said.
Cops said Fitzgerald’s husband, Samuel Randolph, threw a chair that hit the 10-year-old in the back.
Randolph works at the youth center. The director said it was appropriate for cops to file charges.
“Any time children are involved with safety you have to protect them,” Jasper Cain said.
“It just sends such a terrible message when kids see parents behaving in this way,” Chief Tumolo added.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Fitzgerald said she and Randolph have talked repeatedly to the alleged bully and her mom, and thought it was time for their kids to fight back.
“He told Aniya to hit the girl back and that would be the end of it and for her to leave her alone. The little girl got out the chair and slapped my daughter, right in front of us. That’s what caused the big outbreak,” Fitzgerald said.
Everyone involved lives in the same public housing complex. Fitzgerald said to help defuse tensions she has sent her daughters to live with family in Connecticut.
The couple was hit with endangerment charges and a restraining order to keep away from the 10-year-old.
The accused couple is now waiting to find out if Randolph will lose his job at the youth center.
Police: Tree Branch-Wielding Man Robbed 7-Eleven Store In Central Islip
August 5, 2011 2:55 PM
(credit: Handout/Suffolk County PD)
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – It may not have been a weapon of choice but rather one of convenience.
Suffolk County police say a Ronkonkoma man was arrested after trying to rob a 7-Eleven store in Central Islip Thursday night using a large tree branch.
Michael Zimmerman, 31, is accused of walking into the store around 11:30 p.m. and demanding money from the clerk.
After being denied, police said Zimmerman struck the clerk several times with the branch.
Police said Zimmerman took off on his motorcycle which was parked in the lot after the clerk fought him off but didn’t get very far.
An off-duty Nassau County police officer blocked the motorcycle after he saw Zimmerman being chased by the clerk and a small group of customers
The officer held Zimmerman until Suffolk County police arrived.
Zimmerman has been charged with robbery in the first degree.
PSC Student Arrested In False Bomb Threat
More arrests and additional charges are expected in the investigation.
Published: Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 11:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 11:41 p.m.
LAKELAND | A Polk State College student has been arrested after telling deputies she took part in making a false bomb threat in July so she could study for a test.
"It's a top priority because bomb threats to college campuses will not be tolerated."
Polk County Sheriff
Alexxis C. Anthony, 19, from Lakeland, told deputies she and a friend, Theron K. Brown Jr., were involved in a July 28 bomb threat to the college because she wanted her class to be canceled, according to an arrest affidavit filed by a Polk County sheriff's detective.
Anthony, a student at the Lakeland campus, told deputies she was pressured to keep her grades up because of a college scholarship.
The Lakeland campus was evacuated and closed July 28 until law enforcement confirmed that there were no explosive devices.
It was one of three bomb threats made to Polk State in July. The first two threats resulted in the evacuations of four Polk State campuses.
So far, Anthony is the only person charged in connection with a bomb threat. She was arrested Tuesday afternoon.
But sheriff's officials said Thursday they expect more arrests will be made and additional charges filed as the investigation proceeds.
The arrest affidavit said the two other threats — on July 6 and July 20 — were made from the same cell phone.
The July 28 bomb threat was made to the Winter Haven campus, the report said. The caller told the school the bomb would go off at the Lakeland campus at 9:15 a.m. That day, the college was announcing its new branding and mascot.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Thursday night that Winter Haven police received cell phone records and were able to trace bomb threats to the college July 6 and July 20.
The agencies used the records of cell phone calls to find Judeane Curry, a student at the Lakeland campus. She is identified in the affidavit as Brown's girlfriend.
Curry initially denied knowing anything about the threats. Later, she told sheriff's detectives that Brown had called her on the morning of July 28 and told her that he wanted to make a bomb threat to get her and Anthony out of school, according to the affidavit.
Curry told detectives she dismissed the comment, but later heard over a school intercom that the campus was being evacuated.
The bomb threat on the morning of July 6 caused the college to shut down its Lakeland, Winter Haven, Lake Wales and Lakeland Airside Center locations until 1 p.m.
The bomb threat July 20 also caused the four locations to close.
Officials at Polk State estimated in July that the first two threats cost the college more than $130,000. The cost was attributed to the college having to cancel classes.
Judd said Winter Haven police and the Sheriff's Office will continue to investigate the bomb threats.
"It's a top priority because bomb threats to college campuses will not be tolerated," Judd said.
"Everyone involved can expect to be arrested."
Anthony faces a charge of falsely reporting a bomb threat. Her bail is set at $15,750.
LINK TO PHOTO:
Police puzzled by $100k stuffed in Channel Nine toilet bin
Jessica Craven, Colin Vickery
August 05, 2011 12:00AM
A screen grab shows the dramatised footage of the toilet cash dump incident shown on Nine News. Source: Supplied
UPDATE 12.15pm: CHANNEL 9 News has been forced to admit that it faked footage of a man dumping $100,000 in a toilet cubicle.
Last night’s edition of Nine News reported that cash totalling $100,000 had been found stuffed in a toilet bin.
Nine’s story showed what appeared to be security photos of the man entering the disabled toilet at Docklands and dumping his money stash.
However, Nine has now confessed that it dramatised the footage, although a spokesman insisted today that there was no intention to pretend the footage was real.
“We categorically refute the assertion that Channel Nine attempted to fake footage," he said.
"There was never any intention to deceive or mislead our viewers. This was nothing more than a production oversight. The word “reconstruction” should have been displayed.”
“There is no camera footage actually in the toilet itself,” Roberts told 3AW this morning.
“The person who was responsible was probably a lot thinner and of a different ethnicity (to the images used on Nine News).”
The man spent five hours stuffing $100,000 into a bin in a disabled toilet in a bizarre incident which has left police puzzled.
Cleaners discovered the cash in $100 notes stuffed in the bin on Wednesday night.
He walked from the building five hours later.
Police have appealed for the mystery man to come forward.
Detective Sgt Mark McCrann told Channel Nine the incident was ''quite unusual''.
''There's only one person that can tell us why that cash was left in the toilets,'' he said yesterday.
''We'd certainly want him to come forward and we're certainly interested in having a chat with him.''
The money is likely to be declared the proceeds of crime and will be seized by the state of Victoria.
Kettering teacher suspended for allegedly calling students names
Fairmont faculty member accused of unprofessional conduct.
Updated 2:48 PM Wednesday, August 3, 2011
KETTERING — The Kettering school board on Tuesday night approved the suspension of Fairmont High School English teacher Michael Togliatti without pay, pending the termination of his contract.
Togliatti, a 10-year veteran of the school with no prior disciplinary record, is accused of engaging in unprofessional and disrespectful conduct toward students.
Principal Dan VonHandorf said an investigation began when a student in the spring complained to the staff about comments Togliatti made.
“Then the student said we (also) should talk to other students,” said VonHandorf. He said that after talking with several students, he felt the claims had been substantiated.
Togliatti was escorted from the school April 18 and has not been allowed back on school grounds.
A letter sent to Togliatti on July 8 from Jim Justice, Kettering City Schools’ director of human resource services, contained specific examples of the some of the comments the district reportedly received from students.
“You demeaned and embarrassed certain students,” Justice wrote, by allegedly calling them “idiots,” “airheads,” and “freaking morons;” telling students to “shut up” and “repeatedly” using profanity directed at students.
“You told a student that nothing smart could ever come out of her mouth, and that nobody likes her anyway,” the letter stated. “You had a picture of the superintendent next to your desk, and periodically ridiculed him to your students.”
The claims were disputed by students who supported Togliatti in letters and school protests. More than a dozen spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting. They characterized him as “respectful and caring,” “a real educator who teaches us about world issues,” and one who motivated them to excel.
Jim Williams, a former teacher and guidance counselor at Fairmont, said he visited Togliatti’s class often. “The idea that he would do something that would cause him to be terminated is impossible.”
Williams also noted that “it was no secret that there was some personality conflict between Mr. Togliatti and some administrators,” but he asked that personalities be taken out of the board’s decision-making.
John Doll, Togliatti’s attorney, said there are definitely two sides to this story.
He said the next step is to appeal the board’s decision and conduct a hearing with an objective third party.
“We believe these allegations based on their investigation will not be substantiated at the hearing,” he said.
A hearing has not been set to determine the status of Togliatti’s contract.
VonHandorf said he is “absolutely” saddened by the potential loss of Togliatti, but he does believe he overstepped with students.
“Given the information that was presented to us, we are doing what we believe is necessary to protect and preserve our students’ right to be educated in a safe environment,” he said.
LINK TO VIDEO AND FOLLOW-UP:
Theft suspect returns stolen items to victim
The Eagle Tribune
Thu Aug 04, 2011, 01:24 AM EDT
PLAISTOW — Police are calling him the "remorseful robber."
A man returned $90 and a GPS to the 61-year-old woman he robbed a few weeks earlier, stopping at her home and leaving a long letter of apology.
"She said he knocked on her door around 8 p.m. (on July 26)," Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones said. "When she opened the door, he said he was sorry, put the stuff down and ran away. He knew where she lived from the items he stole from the wallet."
The suspect stole the woman's purse from a shopping cart at the Plaistow Market Basket on July 18. He grabbed her wallet and GPS, leaving the purse behind in the supermarket aisle. The wallet was later found by the Tewksbury post office and returned to the victim.
The victim of the crime, while happy to have her belongings returned, is still afraid, Jones said.
"Having him show up at her door, even though he was trying to do a decent thing, was a little unnerving," she said. "He had committed a crime against her."
And Jones said though the police are calling the suspect remorseful, she isn't convinced.
"It was either nice, or he knows he's been in the paper and is trying to head off the inevitable," she said.
Jones said the man will still be charged with theft by unauthorized taking despite returning what he had stolen. So far, there are no suspects in the case.
"We have a few tips, but nothing concrete yet," Jones said. "I have no doubt they'll be able to make an arrest in this case."
The suspect also was spotted in a neighboring town by an off-duty police officer and pursued. He got away, but police were able to get a better description of him.
He is a white male with fair skin, blue eyes, 5 feet 10 inches tall, heavy set, in his late 20s to mid-30s.
He has short light brown hair and a brown close-cropped beard and mustache. He wears branded baseball caps, like Nike and Patriots, dark-colored T-shirts, and Converse high-top gray sneakers or sandals. He drives a newer red car, similar to a station wagon.
Police are looking for this man who recently returned items to his victim.
Kidnappers Introduce Victim's Girlfriend To Wife
Spree Spanned From Hialeah To Miami
The robbers forced the man into a waiting vehicle, and two of the robbers got into the pickup truck with the woman, Miami police said. The masked men used flex cuffs to bind the man's and the woman's wrists and drove them to the man's house on Northwest 14th Street in Miami, according to investigators.
When they arrived at the house, police said they found the man's wife, his mother and two children in the home.
Police said the robbers tied up the whole family, beat up the man, roughed up his wife and then took jewelry and money from the home. The men took off with thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry, Miami police said.
Before leaving, the robbers brought the man's girlfriend into the home and introduced her to his wife, according to investigators. The robbers then left them all together in the house and took off.
Miami police said the robbers were in their mid-20s to early 30s. Police have recovered the victim's vehicle.
Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff
Newt Gingrich: Why is he running for the GOP presidential nomination?
Is Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign just a way for him to pass the time? That’s the take of Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. "He's on a lark," Scala is quoted as saying in a Wednesday story by Seema Mehta. "It just seems to be a hobby more than a campaign at this point."
While other GOP candidates, including Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney, have hit the campaign trail hard in Iowa, the former House speaker has gone the low-key route. Mehta writes:
Even the visit to Decorah, in the northeastern corner of the state close to the Minnesota border, was prompted by Callista Gingrich's plans to attend a reunion at her alma mater there, Luther College. While Newt greeted diners at a pancake breakfast at the town's brick firehouse, Callista rehearsed with fellow band alumni.
The motivation behind the Deborah stop recalls a June op-ed by the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, which paints a picture of Gingrich as man undone by the women in his life.
This supposed leader of men is easily led, from his budget tango with the more astute Bill Clinton to his relationships with women.
The son of a teenage single mother who was passed off as his sister, Gingrich has always been guided by women. His first wife, Jackie, was his former high school geometry teacher. The family-values pol cheated on her and left her when she was fighting uterine cancer.
He then married his mistress, Marianne, and worked on books and politics with her until he cheated on her and left her when she was fighting multiple sclerosis. He then married his mistress, Callista, and now he produces agitprop with her.
His favorite phrase is “Callista and I,” his Web site is all about “Newt & Callista,” and he has happily spent a fortune adorning his adored one.
Funnily enough, none of his sexual transgressions — even when he was pushing Clinton’s impeachment while he himself was cheating with Callista, then a 20-something aide on the House Agriculture Committee — landed him in as much political trouble as being loyal to his wife.
He thought his devotion to Callista would bring him political redemption. Instead, it has brought him political reduction. His campaign now boils down to the two of them.
But why bother campaigning as a hobby when, as Dowd also pointed out in her column, Callista would be just as happy on an island in Greece? When columnist Doyle McManus weighed in on Gingrich in May, he wrote:
[Gingrich] believes in his ideas. He has a healthy ego -- perhaps an over-healthy one. And he may hear his biological clock ticking. Gingrich will be 68 in June; this may be his last chance to run for president.
He wouldn't be the first politician to reach a certain age and run for president whether his prospects look good or not. These candidates may not expect to win, but they'd hate to end their careers without having tried.
There's another possibility too. McManus again:
The role that suits him is that of intellectual provocateur and polemicist; Gingrich has always loved big ideas, and even now says he would rather talk about brain science than what he calls "the mundane details" of electoral politics. […] He calls himself "the candidate of ideas," and told a reporter in Iowa that his presidential effort was "something that happens once or twice in a century."
One could interpret Gingrich's campaign as a PR stunt to boost his profile, which could later lead to big-money book deals. It would be a win-win, if you think about it. He could get paid to express himself and Callista could continue to enjoy her bling.
Cranston residents protest sign urging cancer patient to die
Providence Journal photos by Donita Naylor
BEFORE: Edward Jimmis posted this sign facing neighbor Bob Gold's house.
CRANSTON, R.I. -- Cranston police are refereeing a neighborhood dispute in which one neighbor posted a sign expressing the wish that the other, who is in remission from cancer, would die.
About 17 people staged a protest in front 50 Peerless St. in the Stadium neighborhood carrying signs that said "Leave our peaceful neighborhood," "Evil to cancer patients," "Shame on you," and "God please help him" -- all of them directed at the man who put up the sign, Edward Jimmis.
Cranston Police Chief Marco Palombo Jr. told those carrying placards that "the fact that you are all here together is a good thing." He said earlier he wanted neighbors to know that the police were involved and trying to work toward a resolution, and would keep an eye on the protest.
Bob Gold, 55, has been in remission for a year from Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he has been fighting since February 2009. He said that on Monday, he was in his backyard when he saw a holiday wreath with a red bow on the back window of Jimmis' garage. A hand-lettered note inside the wreath read: "Glad you have canser (sic). So die stupid."
Gold called Cranston police, who, he said, talked to Jimmis, but the police reported that Jimmis was not breaking any law. An officer asked Jimmis to take down the sign in the interest of neighborhood peace, Gold said, but Jimmis did not.
Gold then called a reporter, who tried twice to talk to Jimmis. Jimmis later changed the sign to one that said, "Love your neighbor."
This story was originally published at 6:43 p.m.
After changing the sign, Jimmis said he had posted the first sign after disputes with Gold. "I wanted to hit a nerve," he said.
Asked why he changed the sign, Jimmis said: "You're supposed to love your neighbor. I'm doing him a favor."
On Tuesday, Gold, unsatifisfied with the change, called the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and visited the mayor's office, speaking with Carlos E. Lopez, who handles constituent affairs.
"We can't legislate being a good neighbor," Lopez said later in the day. "You want to be able to help, but we have to make sure we respect everyone's legal rights. ... Let's hope for the better side of humanity to prevail on this."
Later, he told the protesters that the mayor supported Gold and "we don't tolerate this kind of behavior in Cranston."
Applying the city's community policing model, Chief Palombo on Tuesday afternoon sent a lieutenant, a sergeant and a patrol officer to discuss the situation with the men and work toward restoring harmony. Two patrol officers stood by and two members of the command staff joined Palombo in supporting the protest.
Palombo said late Tuesday afternoon that Jimmis had agreed that his original sign had been over the top, and he wouldn't post it again. Jimmis was also agreeable to sitting down with officers and Gold to talk things out, Palombo said.
Gold, however, said he wasn't yet ready to sit down with his neighbor.
Isaac Turnbaugh: Man Acquitted Of Friend's Murder Confesses To Police, Walks Free
First Posted: 8/3/11 05:51 PM ET
Updated: 8/3/11 11:46 PM ET
In 2004, Isaac Turnbaugh of Vermont was acquitted of killing his coworker. Police say he recently contacted them, however, and confessed to the murder. But there's not much they can do.
Some might call it an outrage, but he's protected under a basic Fifth Amendment concept better known as "double jeopardy," and prosecutors say their hands are tied.
"He could have turned over a video tape of him committing the murder and it wouldn't change the fact that double jeopardy is attached," Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell told The Huffington Post. "We had our chance. The jury acquitted him and, just in the same way OJ could confess today to his wife's murder, it wouldn’t affect what could be done to him."
Turnbaugh, now 28, stood trial in 2004 on a charge of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Declan Lyons, 24. The two men were coworkers at the restaurant American Flatbread in Waitsfield, a town located about 20 miles southwest of Montpelier, Vt.
Lyons, engaged and expecting his first child, was found dead outside the restaurant on April 12, 2002. He had been mixing sauce in an outdoor cauldron when witnesses inside the restaurant heard a loud popping noise. WPTZ reported that, when the waitresses went outside to investigate, they found an unresponsive Lyons on the ground with a gaping head wound.
Police had no suspects in the case until the following month, when Turnbaugh went to a party and allegedly told six friends that he had shot Lyons. One of the friends told Turnbaugh's mother and she reportedly contacted the police.
"The whole reason he was charged was because he was sitting around the campfire with friends taking mushrooms and, amidst some sort of schizophrenic break, he confessed to this shooting, to being responsible for [the terrorist attacks of] 9/11 and an assortment of other things," Turnbaugh's former attorney, Kurt Hughes, told HuffPost.
During police questioning, Turnbaugh denied killing Declan Lyons and said he considered him a "really good buddy."
Friends also described Turnbaugh and Lyons as good friends, which made it difficult to establish a motive.
"All of us can't fathom why this would have happened," former co-worker Jen Moffroid told WPTZ in August 2002.
"Not a lot of bad vibes. Not a lot of animosity . . . You don't know what to believe and we're just trusting in the system and hoping that the police and courts can figure out what really happened here. We all would really like to know what really happened."
Hughes said the case was extraordinary, in that he had easy access to Lyons' coworkers and friends -- a rare convenience for a suspect's defense.
"They all loved Isaac as much as they loved the victim. It was unlike anything I had been involved in before," he said.
Following his arrest, Turnbaugh was diagnosed with a serious mental illness. The case did not go to court for roughly two years. When it did, Turnbaugh's lawyer argued that his client was ill and said that the FBI was unable to establish that a rifle belonging to his client was the murder weapon.
According to WCAX, prosecutors never denied that they did not have a motive for the crime, but were hoping that lies Turnbaugh had told police -- as well as his confession at the party -- would help them to prove premeditated murder.
On April 6, 2004, after five hours of deliberation, jurors found Turnbaugh not guilty of murder.
Sorrell said that he was surprised by the verdict.
"We had these admissions from him, but he had a very good lawyer who was able to raise reasonable doubt that if you couldn't believe that he was involved with 9/11, then you couldn't believe that he was involved in this murder," the Vermont attorney general said. "The jury did its job. We gave it our best shot. Our justice system isn't always perfect, but it is darn good."
In the month after he was found innocent, Turnbaugh found himself in hot water with police following a 7-hour standoff in which he was involved. Other than that, he has kept a relatively low profile. That is, until he contacted police in Montpelier recently and allegedly confessed to killing Declan Lyons. There is, however, nothing police can do about it.
According to Anne Bremner, a Seattle attorney and legal analyst, the double jeopardy clause forbids authorities from trying Turnbaugh again for murder in this case.
"The framers of the Constitution wanted to preclude government harassment of citizens via successive and potentially harassing prosecutions," Bremner explained to HuffPost.
"Let's take Casey Anthony's case," Bremner continued. "Even if she confesses to Barbara Walters, Oprah, or Larry Flynt, for that matter, double jeopardy would preclude charging or prosecuting her again."
Once again, attorneys on both sides are in disagreement about the alleged confession.
"He's mentally ill. He made similar so-called confessions before the trial, so it's nothing new. It's part of his illness [and] it sounds like he's having a relapse of some sort," Hughes said.
Sorrell, on the other hand, believes Turnbaugh's alleged confession.
"He gave some details this time that were consistent with evidence in the case," Sorrell said. "Clearly, the victim had a head wound, but the police were never able to find any bullet or bullet fragments enough to do any ballistics, so we did not have evidence of any particular caliber or any particular gun. We believed it was a high-powered rifle, and we knew that Isaac Turnbaugh owned a 30-30 rifle. So, this time, he did say he shot him in the head with the 30-30.”
There have been speculation and rumors that authorities could go after Turnbaugh on other potential charges such as perjury, but Sorrell said the defendant did not testify on his own behalf, so perjury is out of the question. Besides that, the statute of limitations is up and "that's not what we're looking to do here," he said.
A civil suit is also unlikely, the attorney general said.
"Quite frankly, I'm not sure that the victim's family would be looking for monetary reward," Sorrell said. "[Secondly], even if they got a verdict for a hundred million dollars, I'm not sure they would be in a position to collect a dime from Isaac Turnbaugh."
Police have not talked to Turnbaugh since his alleged confession. He did not respond to an interview request from The Huffington Post.
According to Sorrell, authorities still believe Turnbaugh is the killer, and do not plan to re-open the case.
"It's just a terrible tragedy," he said. "But, he has to live with what, in fact, he has done."
Out of prison 1 day on FEMA fraud charges, Clarke County woman commits new fraud
Published: Tuesday, August 02, 2011, 3:07 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 02, 2011, 7:24 PM
MOBILE, Alabama — A Clarke County woman responsible for the region’s biggest personal fraud against the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Katrina wasted no time committing a new offense when she got out of prison, prosecutors allege.
In fact, according to a federal prosecutor in Mobile, Lawanda Williams set the wheels in motion before she even got out of a halfway house Feb. 11. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Costello said Williams faxed documents to Alabama Power from a work-release job at a Taco Bell in Spanish Fort in preparation for fraudulently obtaining a loan in someone else’s name.
U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade threw the book at Williams today, rejecting the 37-year-old Jackson woman’s explanation that she intended to pay for the $3,000 worth of appliances she bought on credit.
“Frankly, Ms. Williams, I don’t believe your representations,” Granade said before sentencing her to another 2 years in prison, the maximum penalty. “The record from this court and others is that you are a con person and a fraudster. ... You have begun down a path from which there is no going back unless you decide to change.”
The judge also denied a request by Assistant Federal Defender Fred Tiemann to allow Williams to serve the sentence at the same time she serves a 10-year prison term imposed by a Clarke County Circuit Court judge for the same conduct.
According to court records, Williams got out of the halfway house on Feb. 11 and completed the purchase that same day in Jackson of a washer and dryer, a computer and a TV set from Alabama Power. A tip led Alabama Power to reclaim the items on March 4.
Williams admitted that she used the name and personal information of a woman named Tiffany Brooks, whom the defendant met in prison. Tiemann said his client knew she would not qualify for credit in her own name and had the woman’s permission to use hers.
“I wanted the court to be aware that the state is punishing her for the underlying conduct,” Tiemann told the judge.
Costello sought the 2-year maximum, noting that Williams has a string of criminal convictions dating to age 17 and that she has had only 2 months of verified employment in her life — in 1995.
“It’s the only appropriate sentence in this case. Frankly, it’s probably too little,” he said. “She had no intention of paying the money back.”
Williams pleaded guilty in 2006 to federal crimes stemming from her submission of 28 phony applications for assistance following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. FEMA approved 20 of those applications for $277,377.
Granade sentenced her in 2007 to 6 years and 3 months in prison and ordered her to pay back $267,377. The judge also ordered her to surrender 4 automobiles, real estate, televisions, electronics equipment and other items she purchased with the money.
At the request of prosecutors, Granade later chopped 8 months off of Williams’ sentence in recognition of assistance she provided in another case of FEMA fraud.
Louis Magazzu, Democrat New Jersey freeholder, resigns after nude photos, sexts surface
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, August 3rd 2011, 8:18 AM
Garden State Democrat Louis Magazzu announced his resignation Tuesday after nude pictures he sent to a woman he had been corresponding with were posted on a Republican activist's website.
At least two of the photos showed the Cumberland County freeholder's crotch, two showed him dressed to the nines in a suit, and a fifth showed him waist up without a shirt.
The tawdry photos - taken in front of a mirror with a smartphone - are similar to those that led to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens-Brooklyn) to call it quits in June.
Magazzu, a 53-year-old lawyer who had been an elected county official for more than a decade, apologized to his friends, family and constituents in a statement, but indicated he had been set up.
"I did not know that she was working with an avowed political enemy to distribute these pictures," Magazzu said of the Chicago woman he corresponded with online with for several years but claims he never met. "I have retained counsel to determine what laws may have been broken by the unauthorized distribution of those pictures."
Magazzu, who has five children, has been separated from his wife for about two years. He claims no government devices were used to receive or send the pictures.
Unlike Weiner, who waited weeks before resigning, Magazzu stepped down just a day after the photo scandal hit local papers.
Carl Johnson, of Milville, who posted the photos on Magazzuwatch.com, said he would consider taking down the photos.
"He should have stepped down a long time ago for many reasons. His brand of politics is harmful to the entire political process," Johnson told The Associated Press. "I'm sorry it had to happen this way."
With News Wire Services
80-year-old teacher sues to get job back after arguing with school about bathroom breaks
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, August 3rd 2011, 4:00 AM
An 80-year-old Queens kindergarten teacher is suing to get her job back, claiming she was fired for griping about having to lead her entire class on long walks to the restroom any time one of the tykes had to go.
Lillie Leon, who worked as a city school teacher for more than three decades, was notified last week that she had lost her job at Public School 117 in Briarwood, Queens.
The grandmother of four filed suit in Manhattan in an attempt to overturn her expulsion for insubordination.
"Teaching is my passion," Leon told the Daily News. "But I was put in a position where it was almost impossible for me to safeguard the safety of the children."
Leon, who worked in banking before becoming a teacher in 1978, contends school officials ignored her request to teach first-graders, who wouldn't require supervision on bathroom breaks.
Instead, Leon said, she was told she'd have to lead an entire class of kindergartners through a busy cafeteria any time one of the kids needed to use the restroom. She refused.
"You're dealing with 4- and 5-year-olds who can't fully control themselves," said her lawyer, Stewart Karlin. "And it's really not educationally appropriate to take all that time for restroom duties."
The girls' bathroom, she said, was on the opposite side of the school from her assigned classroom.
"We would have had to walk through the lunchroom when the older children were there," Leon said.
Not to mention, Karlin said, the octogenarian's bad knees.
"She teaches well but she can't really walk quickly," he said. "She's on a cane, she's 80 years old and she's got leg problems."
"Why would you even assign an 80-year-old teacher to a classroom without a bathroom?" he asked.
Leon's petition, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, also says school administrators assigned her to a room where she had previously complained about the air conditioning and where parents had griped about "filthy" conditions and desks that were built for second-graders.
A spokeswoman for the City Law Department said lawyers are reviewing the suit. A Department of Education spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
Leon, who also has a suit pending against the city in federal court, said she just wants to return to the classroom for another year before retiring. She was earning $100,049 a year, records show, and didn't appear to have had any past disciplinary problems.
"I know the children will miss me," she said. "Even from when I started at PS 117, the assistant principal would say that I had my own fan club."
Gwinnett inmate charged with trying to hire hitman
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Gwinnett County jail inmate has been charged with trying to hire a hitman.
Richard Allen Fowler, 55, allegedly offered to pay $4,500 to the "hitman" -- actually an undercover Gwinnett County deputy -- to kill a woman, Channel 2 Action News is reporting.
Fowler, of Norcross, allegedly told the deputy he wanted the woman killed because she had caused him problems.
Now he has even bigger problems. Fowler is charged with criminal attempt to commit a crime and criminal solicitation, both felonies. He is being held without bond at the Gwinnett jail.
Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais said more information on the case would be released Tuesday afternoon.
Fowler had been jailed for terroristic threats and criminal trespass.
Man chainsaws giant middle-finger salute to neighbours as feud boils over into court
Shaun Turton and Shannon Deer
August 03, 2011 12:00AM
The finger sculpture might have sent an even stronger message if it faced the right way.
A MAN who assaulted a neighbour during an alleged 18-month reign of terror in Melbourne's eastern suburbs has been described as the "neighbour from hell".
Residents of Frogmore Cres, Park Orchards, yesterday said they had been caught in the middle of a street war after the man moved into the peaceful area, the Herald Sun reported.
A neighbour said a long-running feud started soon after complaints were made to Manningham Council that the man, 47, had cleared trees on his property in the renowned green wedge.
As the tension in the street reached boiling point, the man chainsawed a 1.2m sculpture of a middle finger out of wood and sat it up in his front yard as a message to his neighbours.
to the Herald Sun and would not comment on whether he had followed orders to remove the statue.
"Leave me and my family alone, I have nothing to say," he said.
Another neighbour, too scared to be named, said the man had terrorised dozens of residents.
"He is the neighbour from hell," the neighbour said.
"We would all be quite happy if he just packed up and went away.
"We've had to endure 18 months of this."
At Ringwood Magistrates' Court last week the court heard a neighbour, John Washbourne, was assaulted after he asked the man to turn off a leaf blower that was sending dust and debris into the caravan Mr Washbourne was cleaning.
The court was told the man headbutted Mr Washbourne, shoulder-barged Mr Washbourne's wife, Judy Lewis, and put the leaf blower in their faces.
After being visited by police following the assault, the man ignored an order to turn down music.
Defence lawyer Paul Lawrie said the man had begun to adopt strategies to avoid conflict and wanted to resolve all matters.
But residents said they were still fearful of the man.
The offender pleaded guilty to charges relating to the assault, sculpture and failure to turn off his stereo and was convicted and fined $700.
In a separate hearing, he was fined $10,000 by Manningham Council after pleading guilty to removing vegetation and doing earthworks without a permit.
Fewer cops, more potholes: How debt deal could hit states hardest
Federal spending cuts mean fewer dollars will flow to the states for unemployment benefits, education, health care, and other state-run programs. Many states will have to cut services or raise taxes.
Contributor / August 2, 2011
The debt-and-deficit bill signed into law on Tuesday forestalled a dangerous federal government default. But it will also slash aid to states already reeling from the recession, almost certainly forcing them to curtail services and raise revenues to pay for programs once bankrolled by Congress.
The bill, which the Senate approved and President Obama signed into law Tuesday, will eventually raise the government’s debt limit by more than $2 trillion in exchange for equivalent savings. Congress will achieve nearly $1 trillion of those savings by cutting domestic discretionary spending – including funds for education, health care, job training – to its lowest level in over half a century, as a share of the GDP.
“State budgets are already devastated,” says Ethan Pollack, a senior policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. “This deal just makes it far worse and shifts a lot of the pain onto state and local governments.”
When state lawmakers hashed out budgets for the fiscal year that began in July, 42 states and the District of Columbia faced a collective budget gap of $103 billion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), which tracks state spending. Because every state except Vermont requires a balanced budget, almost all were compelled to slash services, raise taxes, or both.
The law passed Tuesday will shrink the government’s non-security, domestic, discretionary spending by about $500 billion over the next 10 years, according to the CBPP. Nearly a third of those funds typically flow to states.
States rely on federal aid to pay for many popular programs, including Head Start, work study, energy and housing subsidies, highway repair, and emergency response. With fewer federal dollars available, states will need to restrict their own resources to vital institutions, while cutting or charging fees for less-crucial services.
Taxpayers can expect larger class sizes, fewer police officers, and more potholes, says Jo Comerford, executive director of the National Priorities Project, a left-leaning non-profit that monitors government spending.
“We’re way past cutting the fat or program efficiencies,” says Ms. Comerford. “Now we’re into cuts that are really affecting quality of life and forcing really hard choices.”
States’ painful budget decisions are likely to extend beyond fees and service cuts.
Since August 2008, state and local governments have trimmed workforces at a rate of about 10,000 to 20,000 positions per month, according to the CBPP. Reduced federal aid will likely mean more state-level job and benefits cuts, which in turn could slow states’ recoveries.
When workers receive lower pay or lose their jobs, they consume less, and the ripple effect continues throughout the state’s economy, costing even more jobs,” says a June report by the CBPP
Still, most states are relieved to see a deal that averts government default – particularly the handful of states that faced credit rating downgrades if the federal government failed to pay its bills. In addition, the ballooning federal deficit was unsustainable, says Robert Ward, deputy director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, N.Y.
“If Congress had done nothing, what would the impact have been for states then?” asks Mr. Ward. “It’s hard to argue that the status quo could simply continue forever.”
The deficit reduction law includes a second phase of cuts worth up to $1.5 trillion. The plan calls for a joint committee in Congress to recommend savings, which could take the form of tax increases, entitlement reforms, or more spending cuts. If the recommendations aren’t acted upon by the end of the year, automatic reductions of $1.2 trillion will be applied to defense and domestic programs, including Medicare.
More than two-thirds of the federal funds flowing to states go to mandatory programs, including cash assistance and Medicaid. Medicaid alone accounts for nearly half – about $248 billion – of the $586 billion states will receive from the federal government this year.
For this reason, many analysts are convinced the joint committee will recommend changes to Medicaid, possibly restricting the number of recipients and shifting more costs to the states.
“Medicaid will almost certainly be on the table,” says Ward. “The looming deficits are just too big to ignore, and too big to close with tax increases or military reductions alone.”
Though Congress has yet to target specific programs for reductions – the most severe of which won’t take effect until after the 2012 elections – advocacy groups are already bracing for a new era of austerity.
In New York City, a group called New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts planned to meet on Wall Street Tuesday afternoon to protest the debt law.
“We’re calling people out to vent their frustration with the cutbacks at the federal level,” said Larry Hales, one of the group’s co-founders, before the event.
Mr. Hales, who lives in Jersey City, N.J., has been unemployed since 2009, when he was laid off from a job as a community organizer. Earlier this year, Hales’ unemployment benefits expired, and the state stopped sending him a monthly cash assistance check. He says he doesn’t expect either to be restored.
'Extra sugar' investigation leads to prostitution arrest for Rockaway Dunkin Donuts worker
The Daily Record
6:52 AM, Aug. 2, 2011
PRESS FILE PHOTO ~
ROCKAWAY — A 29-year-old woman working the night shift at Dunkin Donuts is facing prostitution charges for allegedly taking breaks from selling donuts and coffee to provide sexual services in exchange for money.
Melissa Redmond, 29, of Mine Hill, was arrested after a six week investigation known as “extra sugar” that began when police got a tip that people could go to the Dunkin Donuts on Route 46 and arrange a liason with Redmond.
“I had gotten an anonymous tip,” Detective Sgt. Kyle Schwarzmann, who led the investigation. “She was a night time employee (working 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.), supposedly a very good one.’’
Schwarzmann began gathering information and doing surveillance at the scene. He noticed on multiple evenings that she would go out to cars to see customers and would spend 10 or 15 minutes there, he said.
“Sometimes I 'd even see money changing hands,’’ Schwarzmann said, adding that sometimes the cars would stay in the parking lot and other times they would drive to another nearby location.
An undercover operation was developed wth the assistance of Officer Robert Koehler and Officer Scott Haigh acting as the undercover “John.”
“He went in plain clothes through the drive thru window,’’ Schwarzmann said. “He spoke to her and she said if he wanted a good time to call her and she gave him her phone number.”
Haigh parked in the parking lot and Redmond allegedly came out, approached him and gave him a specifc price list for her services.
Haigh returned on another occasion and inquired about her services, was offered a new, and lower, price so he said he needed to go to a bank machine but would return with the money.
When Haigh returned, they drove to the back of the building and the arrest was made. Redmond was then processed, served her complaint and released.
No one at the Dunkin Donuts wanted to comment Monday morning.
Woman accused of killing boyfriend with stiletto heel
Thelma Carter, 46, struck her boyfriend with the shoe at their trailer park home in Augusta, Georgia, police said
For the AJC
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Authorities say an Augusta woman has been charged with murder after prosecutors said she struck her boyfriend in the head with a stiletto heel, killing him.
Richmond County Sheriff's Capt. Scott Peebles said 46-year-old Thelma Carter is being charged in connection with the death of 58-year-old Robert F. Higdon.
Authorities say they believe Higdon was killed sometime Sunday evening, after a dispute between the two inside their home in the Augusta Mobile Home Estates on Milledgeville Road.
Peebles told the Augusta Chronicle that the body was discovered Monday morning after Carter returned to the residence and notified police.
Authorities say an autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Augusta Crime Lab.
Jail records did not indicate whether Carter has an attorney in the case.
Deputies: Jealous teen used Facebook in murder plot
Israel Nieves emailed this picture of himself to his girlfriend when she tried to leave him, Orange County court records show. (Orange County Courts / August 1, 2011)
7:18 p.m. EDT, August 1, 2011
Indian man has hysterectomy after doctors find uterus
An Indian farmer and father of two had a hysterectomy after doctors discovered a "full female reproductive system" in his lower abdomen.
1:31PM BST 01 Aug 2011
The Indian man, identified as Ryalu, was admitted to a hospital near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, after complaining of severe stomach pains.
Doctors suspected a normal hernia, but when they carried out an exploratory operation they were shocked to discover it had been caused by a female uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, a cervix and underdeveloped vaginal tissue.
Dr Pramod Kumar Shrivastava, a surgeon at the Chhindwara district hospital said the patient had external male organs, was fit from working in the fields, and lived a normal life.
"Usually the contents of the Hernia Sac are abdomen organs like large intestines and small intestines but when we operated on the patient we were surprised to find female reproductive organs. We have removed the organs through a hysterectomy and repaired the hernia.
"The sac contained quite developed uterus, both the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, cervix and a tissue which is undeveloped but apparently looks like vaginal tissue," he explained.
"The external reproductive organs of the patient were masculine and he has no problems whatsoever with his sexuality. He had functional male genitals and there was no formation of breasts in the patient. It's an embryological accident at the time of embryonic formation," he said.
The patient, who was said to be as "stunned" as his doctors at the discovery, is recovering in hospital and is being supported by his family.
United States approves free birth control for women
Alina Selyukh Reuters
12:43 p.m. EDT, August 1, 2011
No co-pay required for birth control new U.S. guidelines:
Man Tricked Nurse Into Changing His Diaper By Faking Brain Injury, According To Police
First Posted: 6/10/11 03:01 PM ET Updated: 7/11/11 11:17 PM ET
Investigators in Hooksett say Eric Carrier impersonated his own father and posted classified advertisements on Craigslist seeking an in-home caregiver to assist his son, who Carrier claimed had been injured in a car accident.
"He had no disability. He wasn’t in a car accident," Hooksett Police Detective Janet Bouchard told the Union Leader.
When a nurse arrived at the house in March to discuss future care arrangements, she couldn't find the man who she thought had hired her -- only the 23-year-old suspect who was behaving as though he was suffering from a mental disability, according to police.
Believing that Carrier had been left home alone and was unable to care for himself, the nurse changed his diaper.
But she became suspicious when no one called her back to arrange for future visits and then alerted police.
Carrier has been charged with indecent exposure.
"He exposed himself and it caused alarm to this nurse," Bouchard said. "He brought her there under false pretenses."
This isn't the first time a man in diapers has allegedly taken advantage of healthcare workers.
In a similar incident last year, 40-year-old Florida resident Sean Kelly pleaded guilty after being caught faking a mental disability that left him with the maturity of a 5-year-old. He told healthcare workers that he needed them to change his diapers -- and failed to pay them for their work.
The so-called "Diaper Man" was sentenced to one year of house arrest and four years of probation.
Diaper suspect faces more charges:
My big fat geek wedding! Web guru creates program that will let computer conduct ceremony
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:23 AM on 30th July 2011
When Miguel Hanson and Diana Wesley get married today, they won't stand before a gray haired minister holding a Bible.
Instead, they'll be looking at a 30-inch monitor.
Mr Hanson, a Houston, Texas web developer and IT consultant, created a minister software program when the couple couldn't get a friend to serve as the minister at their wedding.
On one half of the screen, they'll see a virtual minister with an animated, square face with blue eyes and thin, oval glasses.
His voice will be heard over a sound system while the text of what he's saying will show up on the other half of the screen.
'I was like, you know I'm going to write my own minister,' Mr Hanson said.
Ms Wesley, a high school sign language teacher, said she's aware of the nerd jokes that might come the couple's way once more people hear about the wedding. But the couple says being married by a computer fits who they are. They met through a website called 'Sweet on Geeks' and love science fiction and fantasy.
'That's kind of our thing,' Ms Wesley said. 'In fact, my maid of honour, she's making my cake and she's making it with Nerds (candy) as the topping and not icing. That's kind of the theme, the geeked out wedding.'
Next best thing: The couple couldn't get a friend to serve as the minister at their wedding, so they decided to create their own
The ceremony will take place in Mr Hanson's parents' backyard in Houston. Ms Wesley, 30, said she wanted a small wedding, and the couple started planning it after Mr Hanson, 33, proposed in May.
The computer will greet the couple's 30 or so guests in a mechanical, robotic voice, give a little history about how they met and then go through the ceremony. The virtual minister, nicknamed 'Rev. Bit,' also will crack a joke or two.
'If anyone here has anything to say that might change their minds or has any objections, they do not want to hear it and I will not recognise your objections since Miguel has programmed me to only recognizeshis commands,' said the program during a preview that Hanson played on his home computer.
While Hanson wrote the software program, the couple collaborated on the text the computer will recite during the ceremony.
They said their friends instantly like the idea. But some family members took a little longer to warm up to it.
'A couple members of the family were like, "Really? A computer?" I think once they see it... It's novel and so it's something they haven't seen,' Ms Wesley said.
While performing weddings might not be the next logical step in the evolution of computers, Mr Hanson and Ms Wesley are not alone in wanting holy matrimony to be more high tech.
A robot officiated a wedding last year in Japan, but in that ceremony, the robot was remotely controlled by a man sitting a few feet away.
Mr Hanson said while he will use a wireless mouse to move the computer program forward after it pauses to let people speak, it will for the most part run on its own once the ceremony begins.
The computer-officiated wedding won't be legally binding. Mr Hanson and Ms Wesley still have to get a justice of the peace to sign their paperwork to make the marriage official. They plan to do that shortly after the ceremony.
'We're both friends of the computer. So it's kind of like our best friend is still marrying us,' Ms Wesley said. 'The computer is a huge part of our lives, so why not be a huge part of this?'
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