Man arrested after 30 pounds of marijuana found in Hampton motel room
26-year-old Isaac Leon Lipkins
12:24 p.m. EDT, September 30, 2011
Castro calls Obama stupid, slams Cuba policy
Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro lashed out at U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday for demanding changes on the island in order to improve bilateral relations and referred to him as "stupid."
On Wednesday, Obama told Hispanic journalists that he would be willing to change the country's tough line on Cuba "when we start seeing a serious intention on the part of the Cuban government to provide liberty for its people."
On Thursday, Castro responded with sarcasm in a written essay published in Cuban state media.
"How nice! How intelligent! So much generosity has failed to let him understand that after 50 years of blockade and crimes against our country, they haven't been able to bow our people."
He went on to say many things would change in Cuba, but only thanks to Cubans' own efforts and "despite" the United States. "Perhaps that empire will collapse first," he added.
He also slammed a recent ruling by a U.S. judge against a Cuban agent, but he said it was to be expected.
"Otherwise, the empire would cease to be the empire and Obama would cease to be stupid."
Shoplifting likely to cost woman her life as she loses spot on heart transplant list with sentence
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, September 29th 2011, 1:29 PM
Diane McCloud, 47, of Hempstead, LI, was sprung in January to get on a heart transplant list.
But she was busted again in August for stealing $500 in toiletries from a CVS drugstore. Prosecutors said the crime was part of McCloud's one-woman shoplifting spree since she was released from jail.
Nassau County Judge Francis Ricigliano ordered McCloud to serve the original 15 month sentence, also for shoplifting, and another year for the new charges, according to her lawyer.
McCloud, who had been going for screenings at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan to get on its heart transplant list, no longer qualifies for the procedure since Medicaid doesn't cover inmates.
The judge had threatened to toss her back in jail if she didn't quit smoking, a promise he planned to keep when her doctors alerted him that she hadn't kicked the habit.
But when she returned for a court appearance in August, she was arrested on new shoplifting charges, making the smoking deal a moot point.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
Saggy pants ordinance brings cash to Albany
September 27, 2011
ALBANY, Ga.— The first saggy-pants ordinance violator less than nine months ago started a cash flow to the city.
City Attorney Nathan Davis stated, “The Municipal Court advises that 187 citations have been issued and fines collected of $3,916.49,” since the ordinance went into effect Nov. 23.
The ordinance bans anyone from wearing pants or skirts more than three inches below the top of the hips, exposing the skin or undergarments.
First-time offenders pay a $25 fine. On subsequent offenses, the fine can go up to $200.
Considering that the Albany Police Department is averaging more than 20 citations a month for the indecent exposure saggy pants ordinance, it is possible the rest of the year could add another $1,500 to the city’s general fund pot.
The ordinance prohibits arrest or imprisonment for violations. However it also allows 40 hours of community service to be completed in lieu of fines.
Under the ordinance “the municipal court shall have the same authority as the superior court to enforce obedience to its orders, judgments and sentences.”
Albany is far from alone in its desire to ban the pants to the ground style. It has been reported that Dublin, Hawkinsville, Plains, Rome and other Georgia cities have ordinances or are considering them.
The Chicago Tribune reported that in 2008 its suburb of Lynwood was the first in its area to enact a ban on low-hanging pants.
Other states such as Florida, Virginia and Louisiana also have cities with the ban or are considering a ban, according to the website USATODAY.com.
Andy Rooney gives his last word Sunday on '60 Minutes'
Andy Rooney, who has delivered his trademark witty commentary on "60 Minutes" since 1978, is stepping away from the CBS newsmagazine. Rooney, 92, will make his last regular appearance on the series on Sunday.
A release from "60 Minutes" gave no reason for Rooney's departure, but he will outline the announcement in his regular essay at the conclusion of the broadcast, which will mark his 1,097th essay for "60 Minutes." Rooney's commentary will be preceded by a segment in which Rooney will reflect on his career during an interview with Morley Safer.
Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of "60 Minutes," said in a statement, "There's nobody like Andy and there will never be. He'll hate hearing this, but he's an American original. His contributions to '60 Minutes' are immeasurable; he's also a great friend. It's harder for him to do it every week, but he will always have the ability to speak his mind on '60 Minutes' when the urge hits him."
Rooney also provoked controversy. He was suspended without pay by CBS News for three months in 1990 in response to complaints that he had made offensive comments about blacks and homosexuals.
Rooney's first essay for "60 Minutes" in 1978 was a report about automobile fatalities on the Independence Day weekend. He became a regular feature that fall, alternating weeks with the dueling James J. Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander before getting the end slot all to himself in the fall of 1979.
He also produced "60 Minutes" segments for Harry Reasoner during the broadcast's first few seasons.
Suspect says he wrote bad checks to pay for BotoxPosted: Sep 26, 2011 3:53 PM EDT
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – What started as a routine traffic stop in Brentwood Friday night ended nearly 100 miles away with the arrest of a man who admitted to writing bad checks to pay for Botox injections.
Brentwood officer Chase Ezell attempted to stop a blue Dodge Stratus with a stolen license plate.
Instead, the suspect, later identified as Steven Ray Harris, refused and took off down Carothers Parkway and north onto Interstate 65 toward Nashville.
Brentwood officers deployed spike strips at Old Hickory Boulevard but the 41-year-old kept driving at speeds in excess of 100 miles-per-hour.
"It's dangerous for everyone… the suspect, the police officers involved, especially the officers deploying the stop sticks," Brentwood police Capt. Tommy Walsh told Nashville's News 2.
The pursuit continued through Nashville and onto Interstate 40 West.
After about 30 minutes, in Dickson County, Brentwood officers backed off, allowing the Tennessee Highway Patrol to continue the pursuit.
Finally, close to 100 miles later, Harris pulled over in Humphreys County and quietly surrendered.
According to the arrest affidavit, he claimed he didn't stop because he didn't want to be "shot by Brentwood police."
He later told lawmen he used "bad checks to pay for Botox" in Williamson County and used the identity of another man as part of an agreement to stay away from that man's wife.
Harris also admitted to stealing the license tag from a Nashville parking garage because his temporary tag was expired.
Harris is behind bars on multiple counts, including reckless endangerment, theft of property, evading arrest and identity theft.
Port St. Lucie mom accused of hiding drugs, needles under baby's dress
Deanna Marie Angelico (Photo courtesy of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office)
5:16 p.m. EDT, September 26, 2011
A Port St. Lucie woman remained in the St. Lucie County Jail on Monday after Sheriff's Office deputies say she placed drugs and used syringes under her baby's daughter's dress to avoid being searched by a female St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office deputy.
Deanna Marie Angelico, 31, of the 800 block of Southeast Sweetbay Avenue, on Sunday was charged with felony child neglect without great harm, felony drug possession and misdemeanor possession of drug equipment.
According to arrest reports, she and Michael G. Angelico, 23, were in a vehicle stopped by deputies in the 800 block of Prima Vista Boulevard after witnesses reported seeing two people shooting up drugs.
Michael Angelico, of the 800 block of Southeast Starflower Lane, was charged with felony drug possession and misdemeanor possession of drug equipment. He was released on Sunday on $5,500 bond; Deanna Angelico was held in lieu of $8,000 bond.
Neither person's arrest report stated what type of drug was found or the amount.
Midwest Farmers Are on Alert Against Pig Thieves
A rash of pig thefts in Iowa and Minnesota has puzzled farmers and law enforcement officials.
September 23, 2011
LAFAYETTE, Minn. — Here in pig country, the pigs are vanishing.
Allen Brisson-Smith for The New York Times
Ryan Bode, whose family has raised pigs for decades, said thieves broke into this barn in Lafayette, Minn., by cutting straight down some ventilation netting.
This month, 150 pigs — each one weighing more than an average grown man — disappeared from a farm building in Lafayette despite deadbolts on its doors. Farther north near Lake Lillian, 594 snorting, squealing hogs disappeared last month, whisked away in the dark.
And in Iowa, with added cover from the vast stretches of tall cornfields, pigs have been snatched, 20 or 30 at a time, from as many as eight facilities in the last few weeks, said the sheriff of Mitchell County, adding that among other challenges, the missing are difficult to single out.
“They all look alike,” said Curt Younker, the sheriff, who said he had only rarely heard of pig thefts in his decades on the job. “Suddenly we’re plagued with them.”
Some livestock economists pointed to the thefts in this hog-rich region as one more sign of the grim economy, a reflection of record-high prices for hogs this year and the ease of stealing pigs from the large barns that are often far from the farmer’s house.
“This is the hot commodity of the moment, like copper a few years ago and gold,” said Ryan Bode, whose family company, Rebco Pork, discovered that 150 of its pigs were missing on Sept. 16, shortly before they were to be taken to market.
The loss was $30,000, he said, on top of the “ungodly high” price of corn that he had paid to feed those pigs for six months until they were fat enough to be sold. “And after all that, they’re not here,” he said.
The Nicollet County sheriff’s investigator was swapping details with law enforcement authorities in other places where pigs have been taken and calling for tips of any sort, but Mr. Bode seemed doubtful about seeing his pigs again.
“My guess is that they’re bacon and pork chops already,” he said.
For the moment, as worried hog producers around the region pledged to strengthen their security systems and considered offering rewards to solve the string of cases, investigators in Iowa and Minnesota, which are among the nation’s top hog producers, were left with a tangle of complicated questions.
Was this all the work of a single roving band of pig thieves, or were they isolated incidents with separate culprits, all driven by the high price of pigs (which are going for about $200 apiece right now, and were even higher last month)?
And who would have enough experience with 270-pound pigs (a group that would not, for instance, simply march out of their barns with a whistle and a “come here, boy”) and sufficient equipment (at least a large livestock trailer) to pull off such heists?
And where exactly would they have taken the pigs?
“Hundreds of pigs don’t just disappear,” said Marc Chadderdon, a sheriff’s investigator who has worked in Nicollet County, home to about 33,000 people, since 1994 and said he had never before received a similar crime report.
“It’s not exactly like stealing a pot of gold,” he added. “You have to do something with them.”
Investigators suspect that the pigs may have been taken to meat-processing plants or affiliated “drop-off” facilities or that they were sold at auction barns, which are less common these days as more large pig producers have direct arrangements with food-packing companies.
But that has raised an uncomfortable suggestion in an industry where many of the biggest farmers and pork buyers know one another personally and where a stranger pulling up to sell 100 hogs should give pause.
“Someone in the business somewhere has the answer as to who’s doing this,” Mr. Chadderdon said.
Changes in the way pigs are raised have probably made stealing them easier.
The large, low-slung buildings that often house thousands of pigs, known as “finishing barns,” are often off gravel roads, far from most houses and busy towns, in part to avoid complaints about the smells of pig waste and other environmental concerns.
In some, workers tend to a facility only a few times a day, but mostly leave it operating on its own, with automated feeding and water systems.
As word of the thefts has spread, some farmers in both states said they were keeping closer count of their animals, considering adding more security systems or even tattooing their pigs as a way of identifying them, a practice already used by some farmers (though not in the cases of the missing pigs).
In truth, no one here is precisely sure on what evening (or evenings) the 150 pigs were taken from this facility in Lafayette.
It was not until the pigs here were heavy enough to be sold that Mr. Bode’s family company — which raises 60,000 pigs a year at eight such buildings — noticed that they were missing. The doors were always locked, but, strangely, there had been no sign of a break-in.
Finally, after searching the building from top to bottom, workers spotted a razor-straight opening — just enough for a person to slip through — sliced all the way down heavy bird netting on a side of the building that automatically opens slightly to let air in on hot nights.
“They definitely did their homework,” Mr. Bode said the other day, running his fingers over the gap in the netting. “And they definitely knew what they were doing.”
Mr. Bode, 37, whose family has farmed around here for generations, recalled stories of a missing pig, perhaps even two, years ago.
“In the past, that would have been just for himself, maybe, a way to fill the freezer,” Mr. Bode said. “But now, it’s different. This isn’t about putting food on the table.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: September 24, 2011
An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Ryan Bode of Rebco Pork. Commenting on 150 missing pigs, he said, "My guess is that they're bacon and pork chops already,” not “baking in pork chops.”
Police: Father Attacks High School Football Coach With Ax
Raynald Adams, 40 (Booking Photo)
8:47 a.m. PDT, September 24, 2011
Poll: 56% of surveyed think Barack Obama is worse President, or just as bad, as George W. Bush
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, September 24th 2011, 4:00 AM
A result, from a USA Today/Gallup poll out Friday, could not have gone over well with Obama's political strategists.
"The fact that less than half of Americans say Obama has been a better president than Bush, given the low regard Americans have for the Bush presidency, poses a clear challenge for Obama," Gallup's website declared in a breakdown of the poll, which surveyed 1,004 Americans, living in all 50 states, from Sept. 15-18.
Those surveyed were asked to rate Obama's presidency against Bush's, and also against Bill Clinton's, by choosing one of three answers: better, worse or about the same.
The problem for Obama is that too many - 22% of those surveyed - gave the same-as-Bush answer. Bush left office dogged by widespread discontent and bleak economic developments, creating a national angst that Obama rode to the White through his promise of change.
So for Obama, as an incumbent, and especially one who vowed he would improve the country's lot, the same-as-Bush answer is really a negative response.
And as the Gallup analysis points out, Obama needs to convince voters that the country is better off now than it was the day Bush permanently traded the Oval Office for his Texas ranch.
"The outcome of presidential elections, particularly for incumbent presidents, largely turns on performance evaluations," the analysis reads. "If Americans are generally happy with the state of the nation, they are generally likely to re-elect the incumbent. If they are dissatisfied, the incumbent is at risk of defeat."
Only 12% said they believe Obama is doing a better job than Bill Clinton. Among Democrats, only 20% said Obama tops Clinton, but 51% said they were about the same.
Obama, predictably, took a pounding among Republicans, with just 9% saying he has been a better chief executive than Bush. Among Independents, that percentage was somewhat better but by no means encouraging: 33%.
With the election little more than a year away, Obama is staring at a lengthy campaign checklist, topped by the need to quiet liberal disenchantment and to play up the moves he made that many political observers credit with pulling the economy back from the brink of full-blown depression.
But, as Obama maneuvers for a second term against the backdrop of bitter partisan bickering on the Hill, the dreadful economy is a major problem for him, as the Gallup analysis stresses.
"Voters may give Obama more leeway because of the poor state of the nation when he took office; and as of now, they appear to be doing so, as Americans still blame Bush more than Obama for the country's economic problems," according to the analysis, citing an earlier poll.
That poll, also by USA Today/Gallup earlier this week, found that 7 out of 10 Americans blame Bush either a great deal or a moderate amount for the current economic mess. But that poll also found that 53% assigned blame to Obama for the economy.
And while Obama has time to make improvements and sway voters, as the Gallup analysis suggests, there is another way of looking at things, as former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller outlined in a column.
"In our political culture, if you inherit a problem and do not fix it, you own it," Keller wrote in a piece posted on todayonline.com.
"So at some point it became the popular wisdom that Iraq and Afghanistan were 'Obama's wars,' and that the recession had become 'Obama's economy.'"
Dad attacks son over daughter's tattoo, deputies say
7:04 a.m. EDT, September 23, 2011
Another example of some parental wisdom that we've all heard: Do as I say, (Not as I Do).
Michael Turner allegedly became upset with his 17-year-old son for taking his sister earlier that day to get a tattoo, according to a Clay County Sheriff's Office arrest report.
Details from the arrest affidavit:
The Orange Park dad got into his car, revved up the engine and drove at his son twice. But the lucky lad was able to dodge the vehicle both times.
The teen then struck his dad "in self-defense" with his fist through an open window in the vehicle.
Now it was dad's turn — he stepped out of the vehicle, then opened the trunk to retrieve a crowbar which he swung at his son.
Mom managed to intervene and separate the two before deputies arrived.
Odd behavior from a Dad that sports some tattoos, according to the arrest report.
Dad tats include a panther on his left leg, an eagle on his right leg and a panther head on his right shoulder.
Photo: Clay County Sheriff's Office
Animal lover opens up seven-star pet resort
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Pampered pets can live the life of luxury in the world’s first seven-star animal hotel in Dubai – complete with air conditioned suites and an on-site GYM.
Irish ex-pat Aideen O’Mara set up the Urban Tails Pet Resort as a pet equivalent to the mega-rich resort’s famous Burj Al Arab hotel.
Charging up to #68 per night, the hotel has plasma TVs in rooms and butlers to cater for the animals’ every need.
There are webcams all over the resort so owners can log in from wherever they are in the world for peace of mind.
And speakers play classical music in communal areas of the resort to ”promote calmness”.
Dogs are not allowed on public beaches or in parks in Dubai and have to spend five months inside because of the unbearable heat.
Aideen moved to the UAE in 2004 where she worked at an international school for seven years before she spotted a gap in the market and set up her hotel this year.
She wanted to create an environment where cats and dogs could ”socialise in luxury surroundings” while their European owners return home at the hottest time of the year.
Urban Tails – which styles itself as a seven-star resort like the famous Burj al Arab hotel – has suites to accommodate 70 dogs and 40 cats while their owners are away from home.
Aideen, said: ”I have always had pets and I feel that animals are given a bit of a raw deal in the UAE in terms of pet services on offer and they do not have much freedom in comparison to dogs in Europe.
”I came up with the idea of a pet resort as, first of all, most of the pets in Dubai use boarding facilities and secondly, there was no facility in the country that was attempting to make boarding stress free for the pet and their owners.
”When dogs are staying with us we socialise them in groups and get them out of their suites, playing a few times a day so that when they are put back in they are too tired to be anxious.
”We have plasma TVs in all the dog suites to give them company and let them hear sounds that remind them of home.
”I wanted the dogs to actually enjoy the boarding experience instead of hating it.”
Prices start from £20 per night for the Junior Suite with the slightly larger Deluxe and Urban Suites costing £24 and £25.50 respectively.
All suites and play areas have a special design layout to reduce noise and minimize stress
The top-of-the-range Royal Suite costs a jaw-dropping £68 per night, although the service comes with a personal butler and pickup and delivery in the ‘pet limo’.
Aideen added: ”It’s not all about dogs either. Our cat guests also get out of their condos every day so they don’t feel like they’re cooped up.
”Sometimes we are able to mix a few cats together so they can play on the Cat Jungle and run around after each other.”
”It’s been our first summer but we were full for the whole season and the animals seem to love it.
”Owners are always saying that when their car pulls up outside the gate the dog is pulling at the leash to come inside. Some dogs even have to be pulled out the gate when they are leaving.”
3rd possible suspect arrested in Orleans/Jefferson home invasions
Octomom Nadya Suleman says she 'hates' her children, contemplates suicide: 'They disgust me'
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, June 30th 2011, 11:22 AM
Octomom Nadya Suleman isn't winning any Mother of the Year awards any time soon.
The woman best known for having octuplets in 2009, in addition to her six other children, has given an interview in the new issue of In Touch Weekly, in which she admits some rather disturbing feelings toward her brood.
Feeling overwhelmed by the burdens of caring for a large family, Suleman not only says she wishes she never had them, but admits to have contemplated suicide.
"I hate the babies, they disgust me," the 36-year-old single mother told the magazine.
She also unleashes some vile words for her older children.
"My older six are animals," she says, "[They are] getting more and more out of control, because I have no time to properly discipline them."
Suleman gave viewers an inside look at her life in a TV special last year. (FOX)
Though it was once her dream to have a big family, Suleman's reality has turned into a nightmare now that she is broke and without hope.
"The only way I can cope is to lock myself in the bathroom and cry. Sometimes I sit there for hours and even eat my lunch sitting on the toilet floor. Anything to get peace and quiet," she says.
CELEBS WHO RUN THEIR MOUTHS STRAIGHT INTO TROUBLE
Photos accompanying the interview are likely to raise concern with Child Protection Services. In addition to Suleman's house being in run-down condition, one child is seen eating dry-wall.
Suleman says she feels so defeated, she's considered putting an end to it all.
"Some days I have thought about killing myself," she says. "I cannot cope."
Octomom took her eight babies to a local park in May 2009. (Jason Mitchell/BuzzFoto/FilmMagic)
Though she insists she still has love for her children, Suleman looks back on the decisions she's made and says she wishes she never got pregnant in the first place.
"Obviously I love them - but I absolutely wish I had not had them," she says.
Suleman has been vocal about her struggle to support herself and her children. The unemployed mom has been facing foreclosure on her La Hambra, Calif. house since last year, and is currently on welfare.
"My bank account is overdrawn by $300 and I have no money to pay for the children's school, food or the mortgage," she confesses.
However, Suleman may soon get the chance to increase her income. She recently filmed an episode of a new HDNet celebrity dating show called "Celebridate," in which cameras will follow her as three regular people try to win her heart.
Marijuana shipment tracked to NFL player's home, news report says
A law enforcement investigation tracked a delivery of potent marijuana from Northern California to a home in Kentucky where two NFL players were at when the package arrived, according to a report by California Watch.
Jerome Simpson and Anthony Collins, both 25 and members of the Cincinnati Bengals, were at Simpson's home when the 2 1/2-pound package allegedly filled with marijuana arrived, the news organization said in its report Wednesday. Simpson is a wide receiver and Collins is an offensive lineman.
The two players, along with a third man who signed for the package when it arrived at the home Tuesday, were questioned by authorities. No arrests were made.
Police allegedly found six more pounds of marijuana inside the home in suburban Crestview Hills, according to the report.
The investigation was launched the California Department of Justice. Agents from the department alerted law enforcement officials in Kentucky.
Three arrested in bungled beer heist in Covina
Three Covina men are behind bars after they allegedly stole a 30-pack of Tecate beer from a market and attempted to escape but crashed a car and hit an employee who chased them, then one ran through a car wash and another left behind his ID.
Andy Huynh, Nicholas Kalscheuer and Nicholas Fiumetto, all 19, were arrested Wednesday on charges of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest, according to a Covina police report.
Kalscheuer and Fiumetto entered the Baja Ranch Market about 3 p.m. Wednesday while Huynh remained behind the wheel of a car nearby.
Inside the store, Fiumetto grabbed a 30-pack of beer and the two men ran out. Employees ran after the pair into the parking lot, grabbing and detaining Kalscheuer and later turning him over to police, according to the report.
As Huynh pulled out, an employee jumped on the hood of the car to avoid getting run over. Huynh careened through the parking lot, hitting a curb and sending the employee onto the pavement, scraping his arms in the fall, according to the report.
Huynh and Fiumetto ran off. Fiumetto climbed a fence and ran into the Citrus Car Wash next door.
Pepe Pinedo, the car wash manager, was standing amid drying cars when he saw Fiumetto, pursued by two officers, run into the car wash tunnel.
At the time, "there were two cars being washed in the tunnel," Pinedo said. "He got into the wash and the rollers and got all wet.
"By the time, he came out of the car wash, the officer was already on the other end of the tunnel," he continued. "It was kind of funny. It was a nice show."
Huynh ran off but had left his wallet and identification in the car. Police officers contacted him later and convinced him to turn himself in.
All three men are expected to be arraigned in court Friday. Until then, they are being held in Covina City Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Poverty an invisible issue in GOP race
Editor's note: Roland S. Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch With Roland Martin."
(CNN) -- When the U.S. Census Bureau reported last week that a record number of people were living in poverty, Republicans were quick to attach the figures to President Barack Obama, desperately trying to lay them at his feet.
But anyone with common sense knows that someone doesn't just fall into poverty overnight. The deplorable economic conditions that led to today's poverty numbers began in 2007. Republicans often ignore such facts.
Yet when you start digging deeper into the Census Bureau report, what stands out is that of the 10 poorest states in the country, most are the reddest in the nation -- solidly GOP states.
The most impoverished state is Mississippi, and it's followed by Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina.
Obama won North Carolina by 14,000 votes in 2008, and although West Virginia is considered a Democratic state, in presidential elections it usually goes for the Republican candidate. There is no doubt that in 2012, the GOP expects to lock up all 10 states in the presidential campaign.
Thus it would make sense that the GOP candidates would at least spend some time in the presidential debates debating the issue of poverty in these red states, and explaining what they plan to do about it.
At the June 13 CNN debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, the word "poor" was never uttered, and the only time poverty came up was when former Sen. Rick Santorum discussed his work for welfare reform.
At the September 17 debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, Rep. Ron Paul brought up the poor, and that was in the discussion about getting rid of the minimum wage (he thinks it will lead to more jobs) and how he opposes welfare.
During the CNN/Tea Party debate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney managed to speak the word "poor," but that was only when it came to America being an "energy-poor" country.
Republicans will quickly say that their economic agenda is the best way to get people back to work and a job is the best way to get people out of poverty. But it's also true that the poverty issue extends beyond employment -- to education and health care.
Voters in these traditional red states should be demanding that the GOP candidates banking on their votes say and do more than they are doing. Scarcely mentioning the poor or poverty is insufficient.
Maybe part of the problem is the poor don't have lobbyists. There aren't any Super Pacs being formed to raise millions of dollars to demand accountability on the issue. Even right-wing Christian leaders such as Ralph Reed and his Faith and Freedom Coalition are quick to condemn Obama's plan to tax the rich but say nothing about the poorest states in the country, or even demand a poverty plan from the GOP candidates.
If I were a poor person in a red state, my primary issue would be which candidate, including Obama, speaks to my needs. If a candidate spends more time defending tax cuts for the wealthy and saying nothing about the poor, including the growing number of children on the poverty rolls, that candidate would be hard pressed to get my vote.
Mom kept son locked inside, hid him in crawl space, during 2 year custody fight; pleads guilty
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, September 21st 2011, 12:59 PM
A desperate mom confessed to locking up her young son like an animal - sometimes stashing him in a tiny crawl space - for two years to hide the boy from his father.
Shannon Wilfong, 32, will pay $1,500 and serve a month in jail for keeping her boy, Richard Chekevdia, now 9, imprisoned in her mother's home near Royalton, Ill., to keep custody of him.
Wilfong and her mother, Diane Dobbs, blacked out the house's windows and cut the boy off from outside world, forcing him to miss school and doctor's appointments, starting in 2007, according to court testimony.
The women only let Richard out at night, and when visitors came, they forced him into a crawl space behind a wall, testimony revealed.
During the case, Wilfong and Dobbs insisted that they were protecting the boy from his abusive father, Wilfong's ex-boyfriend, Michael Chekevdia, a former cop and Illinois National Guard lieutenant colonel
Chekevdia and state welfare officials said he never harmed the boy. Chekevdia was given custody of Richard last year.
Investigators rescued the boy after raiding the home on a tip in September 2009.
Shannon Wilfong, Richard Chekevdia's mother. (Steve Jahnke/AP)
Wilfong pleaded guilty Monday to five misdemeanors, including obstructing a peace officer. She'll also spend two years on probation.
Dobbs also pleaded guilty to obstructing a peace officer and was fined $1,000.
She said her daughter came clean in order to end the trial and pursue visitation rights.
"She wants to start getting a life with her son," Dobbs told the Carbondale Southern Illinoisan newspaper. "We just want Shannon and \[Richard\] reunited."
Police hunting for couple suspected of abducting their eight children from foster care facility
Edgar Sandoval and Joe Kemp
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Originally Published:Tuesday, September 20th 2011, 9:51 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 21st 2011, 1:52 AM
An upper Manhattan couple is on the run after abducting their eight children from a Queens foster care facility, cops said Tuesday.
Shanel Nadal, 28, went to visit her kids - seven boys between 4 and 11 years old, all named Nephra Payne, and an 11-month-old girl named Nefertiti - at the Forestdale agency on 112th St. in Forest Hills about 4 p.m. on Monday, police said.
During the visit, Nadal sneaked the youngsters out of the facility and disappeared, cops said.
Corey King, 31, whose sister Linda Mitchell has fostered five of the boys for the past three years, said he and his sister were devastated.
"These kids were taken away from their parents for domestic abuse," King said. "We are worried for their safety. We are afraid they might get hurt."
King said the children have lived with him and his sister in their St. Albans home for about three years.
"They came to us with emotional scars, but they are good kids," he said. "They just need a good home. They are used to us now."
Investigators believe the children's father, Nephra Payne, 34, was also involved in the abduction. Police said they suspect the family is traveling in a black 1996 Chevrolet Suburban with New York license plate number EXZ5896.
They could also be in a black 2003 Ford sedan or a 1993 black Infiniti.
A spokesman for the Administration for Children's Services said the agency is cooperating with the NYPD but declined to further comment.
Police ask anyone with information on the family's whereabouts to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at (800) 577-TIPS.
TOP ROW: Nephra Yahmen Payne, Nephra Umeek Payne, Nephra Shalee Payne, Nephra Rahsul Payne. BOTTOM ROW: Nephra Payne, Nephra John Payne, Nephra Ceo Payne, Nefertiti Payne.
6:54 p.m. Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Cops: Toddler fired shotgun during mom's drug deal
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Prospective drug dealers, take note: When setting up a score, it’s a bad idea to bring along a couple of young children and a loaded shotgun.
The discharge went into the roof of the vehicle, and no one was hurt. But a passerby heard the gunshot and called police.
An officer found two uncooperative adults and learned that a third had fled, according to a Cobb County Police Department report of the Sept. 6 incident. The three adults, all Marietta residents, were arrested.
The state Department of Family and Children Services is investigating, Channel 2 Action News reports.
Events leading up to the incident began when Shayla Sutherland, 28, loaded her two children, ages 3 and 5, into a blue Chrysler Town & Country minivan driven by Leah Porter, 28, police said.
The foursome went to the Rite Aid drug store in the 4600 block of Hicks Road near Austell. They parked outside the store and waited. Brandon Donahue, 30, drove up in a white Mercury and pulled alongside.
“Donahue, Sutherland and Porter were negotiating the sale of prescription medications when a firearm was fired,” Cobb police spokesman Officer Mike Bowman said. “It was determined inside the van was a loaded 12-gauge Mossberg. The children apparently were playing with the shotgun when the trigger was fired, discharging the shotgun.”
Sutherland jumped out of the vehicle and pulled her two children with her, police said. Porter drove off. When an officer arrived, he learned Sutherland had fled into the Rite Aid and left her two children in the back seat of Donahue’s car.
“Donahue lied repeatedly and did not cooperate with officers’ questions,” the police report said. The man was arrested and charged with obstruction.
“Sutherland was also not cooperative and lied repeatedly to officers,” police said. The woman was arrested and charged with giving a false name/date of birth and obstruction, and for using a cell phone in the illicit sale of drugs. She also was arrested under an outstanding warrant for failure to appear.
Porter was stopped a few miles away. She was arrested and charged with reckless conduct.
Sutherland, Porter and Schott have posted bond and been released from Cobb County Jail to await trial, according to the Cobb County Sheriff's inmate website. Sheriff's records spell Sutherland's first name "Shanla."
Police seized the shotgun. They found in the weapon an empty shell casing and two live shotgun slug rounds.
Help! I’m on the IRS hit list
Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2011 2:00AM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2011 9:35AM EDT
When my friend Brian told me the American tax police were after him, I thought he must be nuts. Brian is a worrier. He gets a little paranoid sometimes. “We haven’t filed a U.S. tax return in 20 years,” he said. “Now our accountant says we have to – or else.”
Brian and his wife are from the States. He took out Canadian citizenship years ago. They’ve lived and worked in Canada for decades. They have no U.S. income or assets. They are 100-per-cent tax compliant – in Canada.
“Forget about it,” I advised. “What could they possibly do to you?”
We’re about to find out.
I’m on the IRS hit list, too. I came here at 13, and I’ve been a citizen since 1979. I don’t have a U.S. passport or any U.S. earnings. But the IRS wants to confiscate a large chunk of my retirement savings. Many of my friends are in the same fix. They send me e-mails saying things like, “Have you filled out the FBAR [Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts] yet?” The amnesty deadline has come and gone, and we still have no idea what to do.
“It’s not the back taxes that will kill you,” Brian told me. “It’s the penalties.” It turns out the IRS can fine you for every unreported bank account, mutual fund and RRSP – at a rate of $10,000 per offence per year. It can also confiscate as much as 25 per cent of the maximum amount you’ve held in each account. This is so absurd it can’t possibly be true. But it is.
The Americans have an unusual view of citizenship. Once an American, always an American, even if you left the U.S. the day you were born. The U.S. is the only country that requires its citizens to file a tax return and report their worldwide income, no matter where they live and what other citizenship they hold. Nobody can explain why the IRS has suddenly decided to enforce this law, which is aimed at money-launderers with offshore bank accounts. I guess the Americans need the money.
Naturally, my friends and I are outraged. It’s confiscatory and extraterritorial. It’s taxation without representation. It’s also a clear violation of privacy laws. (By 2014, Canadian financial institutions will be required to disclose your name if you were born in the U.S.) So why comply? Because if you don’t, they can refuse to let you into the U.S.
You can understand why I’m curled up in the fetal position. “I’m not going to do it,” I told my husband. “You have to do it, “ he said. “If you don’t, someone will rat you out and you’ll never be able to visit your sister again.”
He had a point. So I called our accountant. “Do I have to do it?” I wailed. “I can’t advise you,” he said. He told me that I might be able to get off the hook for only a few thousand dollars. “Can they come after me for more?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “Nobody knows what they’ll do.”
One person who’s off the hook is my brother. He was 11 when we moved to Canada. At 17, he got a draft notice. So he renounced his citizenship (after a long lecture from a consular official). I suppose I could renounce, too – but they won’t let you do that until you’ve filed your back tax returns.
As many as a million U.S.-born residents of Canada are caught in this Kafkaesque nightmare. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has written an indignant letter to leading U.S. newspapers. All of us are getting wildly conflicting professional advice. At first, Brian and his wife, who are by no means wealthy, decided to come clean. But when they were told they’d be on the hook for $250,000, they changed their minds.
“Don’t write about this,” my husband warned me. “You’ll just make yourself a target.”
Serbian cousins attract serious attention with claim they are human magnets
Lukas I. Alpert
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Monday, September 19th 2011, 10:49 AM
Luka Lukic, 6, is an attractive boy. (Marko Drobnjakovic/A)
But other experts remain skeptical.
"I doubt very much that someone is magnetic," said Patrick Regan, a physics professor in England. "Humans are made of the wrong material to be magnetic."
"It would be pretty unsafe to have metal objects sticking to you against the force of gravity," he said. "You couldn't switch something like that off - unless it's fake."
Luka's father, Slavisa Lukic, said doctors have told them the boys are otherwise healthy.
"Nobody can tell us why this is happening," he said.
David's mom said the magnetic attraction appears to wane when the boys sleep but switches back on when they are awake and moving around.
The family says they were alarmed at first but have gotten used to the unusual phenomenon and all the attention surrounding it.
"It was a shock at first, but now we just try to keep the knives away from them," Petrovic says.
Four cops punished for tossing around football with young boy at Bronx housing project
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Monday, September 19th 2011, 4:00 AM
Two of the officers are fighting the discipline raps they received for tossing around a football with a young boy at a Bronx housing project - charging oversensitivity from police brass jeopardizes community relations.
"I don't think throwing a football to a 7-year-old boy is misconduct," said Officer Catherine Guzman, a 17-year veteran of the force. "It was the Fourth of July, it was 96 degrees out and we were interacting with the community.
"Everybody was happy," she added.
That is, everybody except Deputy Chief James McNamara, the commanding officer of the Bronx Housing Bureau. He witnessed the football tossing and gave the cops a dressing-down worthy of Vince Lombardi.
"He was irate and berated us in front of everyone," Guzman recalled. "He said, 'What are you doing? Do you realize you are on overtime?'"
News of the football caper comes on the heels of controversy over cops videotaped dancing and gyrating during the annual West Indian American Day Carnival Parade. Police officials are reviewing the tape of the Labor Day weekend incident, which shows cops happily grinding their hips into the backsides of scantily clad dancers at the Brooklyn parade.
The four officers involved in the 2010 football-throwing incident at the Webster Houses were slapped with command disciplines, and two accepted a penalty of two vacation days.
But Guzman and Officer Mariana Diaz are appealing the ruling and taking their case to the department trial room.
Both face significantly stiffer penalties if they are found guilty of charges that they "did fail and neglect to remain alert, to wit: throwing and catching a football with three uniformed members of service...while maintaining a foot post."
Their lawyer, Eric Sanders, said the NYPD needs to rethink its definition of community policing.
"I think the Police Department prefers its officers to be an occupying force rather than interacting with the community it serves," Sanders said.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not respond to a request for comment.
Diaz said she's taking a stand on principle.
"There's a lot of negativity toward police," she said. "I want kids in the community to look at us in a positive way."
Pennsylvania's Department of State denies inmate's request for a copy of the state constitution
Sunday, September 18, 2011, 8:54 AM
Police: Man took 2-year-old son on trip to sell cocaine
Joseph J. Romano, 26, of Albrightville, Carbon County, was arrested on charges of dealing cocaine and endangering the welfare of a child Thursday after Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department stopped his car for a traffic violation and allegedly found $2,200 worth of cocaine and his 2-year-old son in the car. (POCONO MOUNTAIN REGIONAL POLICE, HANDOUT / September 16, 2011)
A 26-year-old Carbon County man is in jail Friday after police said they stopped him for a traffic violation and found $2,200 worth of cocaine and his 2-year-old son in the car.
Joseph J. Romano of Albrightsville was stopped around 8:20 p.m. Thursday on Route 903 in Tunkhannock Township after police saw him swerve over the double yellow line, Pocono Township Police Department said in a news release.
When police activated emergency lighting to make a traffic stop, Romano was seen throwing items out the window. The items turned out to be three plastic bags containing large chunks of powder cocaine with a street value of about $2,200, police said.
Police said they also found a scale and $350 cash and Roman's 2-year-old son in the car. The investigation revealed he was on his way to deliver the cocaine to a local customers, police said.
Romano was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, possession with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, criminal use of a communication facility, tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held in Monroe County jail under $10,000 bail.
Should homeless people work for their keep?
11:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011
Should Austin's homeless people be put to work at the city-financed shelter? It's a question that Front Steps has struggled with for years.
Last week, I wrote a story about how maintenance costs at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless are piling up because the facility is being used by far more people than it was designed to house. In addition to the $100,000-plus the city spends each year to maintain the 7-year-old building, it also plans to spend nearly $700,000 to fix plumbing, roofing, mold and other problems.
Front Steps, the nonprofit group that is paid to run the facility, says the shelter is serving hundreds more people every day than the building was designed to handle. Thus, parts of it are wearing out faster than anticipated.
That story led several readers to contact me with this question: Why is the city paying $100,000 a year for maintenance when it has all the free labor it could want living under its roof? Why don't they make the homeless people clean and maintain the building?
"We feed them," Austin reader Lan Archer told me. "We care for them. Why don't we make them work a little?"
To clarify, most of the $700,000 in repairs being done at the shelter are pretty major. Among other things, the entire men's shower room is being ripped apart and rebuilt to address ventilation, flooring and mold problems. That's not something just anyone who walks in the door can or should do.
But Archer's question is valid. Are shelter residents required, in essence, to work for their keep?
No, said Front Steps spokesman Mitchell Gibbs. The nonprofit's first priority is to make sure people come in for services. Staffers feel that requiring clients to perform chores might make them stay away from the shelter, where they are connected to services that can get them off the streets permanently, such as job training, drug treatment or housing.
Meanwhile, many of the shelter's clients have mental health, drug or medical problems that would prevent them from doing chores, Gibbs said. There are, however, others who can and do help out around the building.
"Without asking them, we often have clients who are willing to move chairs, sweep up or tell people not to throw things on the ground," he said. "We have folks who are very attentive."
The Salvation Army in Austin takes the same approach and does not force clients to work at its downtown shelter, which houses about 250 people every night. There are liability issues involved in requiring people to work, and staffers encourage people to spend their free time looking for work or housing, said Kathleen Ridings, the nonprofit's director of social services.
The Salvation Army does, however, give paid jobs at the shelter to clients who qualify and pass the required background check, she said.
Haven for Hope, a homeless shelter in San Antonio, does things differently. The 37-acre campus has multiple programs in which long-term residents are taught jobs skills such as construction or janitorial work, then employ those skills on campus, said development director Megan Legacy. Residents, for example, recently did some remodeling work at the shelter.
The facility has an outdoor sleeping area for homeless people who are not involved in rehabilitation programs and are not medically fragile. If they want to sleep inside, they have to volunteer at the shelter for at least seven days, performing tasks such as cleaning bathrooms or wiping down sleeping mats. The idea is to encourage good behavior and hopefully inspire them to take advantage of other services on campus that help them rebuild their lives, Legacy said.
"We have additional resources, and they are rewarded for their help," she said. "Ultimately, we hope they choose transformation and self-sufficiency."
24,500 drivers get fines refunded as speed camera deemed illegal - after 10 years in action
Last updated at 2:18 PM on 18th September 2011
More than 24,500 drivers have been refunded nearly £1.5 million in fines after it was found that a speed camera had been operating illegally for 10 years.
Thousands were wrongly trapped by the Gatso device positioned along the busy A35 at Chideock, Dorset.
When the camera was installed in 1997, a clerical error on the original paperwork meant a road used to mark out the 30mph zone it policed did not exist.
The speed camera on the A35 at Chideock, Dorset, which was deemed illegal after an error was found on its registration document
It stated the camera was a certain distance from Seatown Road - a name locals call it as it leads to the village of Seatown. In reality the road is called Duck Street.
The error, which meant the speed limit was invalid and so could not be enforced by the camera, came to light when a judge spotted it in documents relating to the case of a lorry driver.
As a result 24,259 drivers who paid fines of £40 and £60 between 1997 and 2007 have been refunded.
Some 201 motorists who challenged their fines in court have received a total of £22,827 back from extra costs and fines they incurred.
And those who incurred three penalty points on their driving licences have had them the wiped off.
Chideock, Dorset, where the incorrect naming of Duck Street meant more than 24,500 drivers had speeding fines refunded
The blunder has also cost the Dorset Road Safe organisation £370,981 in administration costs picked up for sorting out the mess.
Of the 24,460 drivers, 127 of them donated the money to charity while 121 declined the refund.
A spokesman for Dorset Road Safe, which represents local councils and the police, said: 'We have now completed the refund process for those claiming against penalties resulting from an erroneous Traffic Regulation Order.
'We have committed to honour any further claims for a refund of fines relating to the camera.'
He added that the paperwork has since been corrected to Duck Street and the camera was now valid.
(CNN) - Sooner or later, it happens to each of us, Richard Rohr says.
“There always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change or even understand,” the Franciscan priest said.
Maybe you’ve been laid off from a job you held for years. Perhaps you’ve experienced a nasty divorce. Or maybe the crisis is more subtle: You suddenly realized that you’ll never have the life you dreamed of living.
Any life-changing moment can knock a person down. But it can also open doors if, as Rohr puts it, a person learns how to “fall upward.”
Rohr, a 68-year-old Roman Catholic author and internationally known speaker, says older Americans face a problem: Religious leaders aren’t paying much attention to them.
Much of contemporary religion is geared toward teaching people how to navigate the first half of their lives, when they’re building careers and families. Rohr calls it a “goal-oriented” spirituality.
Yet there’s less help for people dealing with the challenges of aging: the loss of health, the death of friends, and coming to terms with mistakes that cannot be undone, he says.
Rohr’s new book, “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,” is his attempt to fill that void. It also functions as a spiritual survival guide for hard times as millions of Americans young and old struggle to cope with “falling”: losing their homes, careers and status.
Rohr says he coined the phrase “falling upward” to describe a paradox. Nearly everyone will fall in life because they'll confront some type of loss, he says. Yet failure can lead to growth if a person makes the right decisions.
“I’ve met people who because of the loss of things and security have been able to find grace, freedom and new horizons,” he said.
If you’re falling in any area of your life, Rohr says, one of the first skills to learn is accepting surprises.
He says it’s easy for people to turn bitter when things don’t go as planned. He sees such people all the time, whether throwing tantrums at the airport because of long lines or flocking to angry rallies in opposition to some form of social change.
“You start attacking anybody else who is not like you,” Rohr said. “If you don’t know how to deal with exceptions, surprise and spontaneity by the time you’re my age, you become a predictable series of responses of paranoia, blame and defensiveness.”
Why suffering is necessary
Rohr’s book may address contemporary issues, but the wisdom is old. He extracts insights from sources as varied as Greek mythology, Catholic mysticism and fairy tales like Cinderella.
Such stories often teach similar lessons about hard times: Suffering is necessary, the “false self” must be abandoned, and “everything belongs, even the sad, absurd and futile parts.” Rohr, who has also written “Quest for the Grail,” a book on mythology, says people have learned these hard lessons for centuries through myth.
The heroes in mythological stories follow the same pattern. They must first experience humiliation, loss and suffering before finding enlightenment. They are often forced on their journey by a crisis.
No contemporary American is going to be asked to fight a monster, but an event like the evaporation of a retirement fund or the death of a spouse can force you to summon strength you didn’t know you had, Rohr says.
The key is not resisting the crisis.
“You have to allow the circumstances of God and life to break you out of your egocentric responses to everything,” he said. “If you allow ‘the other’ - other people, other events, other religions - to influence you, you just keep growing.”
That growth, though, is accompanied by death - the death of the “false self,” Rohr said. The false self is the part of your self tied to your achievements and possessions.
When your false self dies, you start learning how to base your happiness on more eternal sources, he says.
“You start drawing from your life within,” Rohr said. “You learn to distinguish from the essential self and the self that’s window dressing.”
Those who break through the crisis and lose their false selves become different people: less judgmental, more generous and better able to ignore “evil or stupid things,” he says.
It may sound esoteric, Rohr says, but many of us have met older people like this. They possess a “bright sadness”: they’ve suffered but they still smile and give.
“I’ve seen that in the wonderful older people in my life,” Rohr says. “There’s a kind of gravitas they have. … There’s an easy smile on their faces. These are the people who laugh, who heal, who build bridges, who don’t turn bitter.”
Rohr says this bright sadness isn’t confined to older people.
“I've met 11-year-old children in cancer wards who are in the second half of life,” he said in a recent interview with Amazon.com, “and I have met 68-year-old men like me who are still in the first half of life.”
Learning the ‘grace of failure’
Rohr’s book has found some fans in high places who were touched by his insights.
Father Gerry Blaszczak, a chaplain at Fairfield University in Connecticut, says Rohr’s book challenges the notion that success is a natural result of being religious.
“Our culture is prone to imagine that growth takes place in a sort of constant, upward movement,” he says. “Even our religious culture tends to focus on success and stability as ideals for religious growth.”
Rohr’s book reminds people about the “grace of failure,” Blaszczak says.
“In the Christian tradition, loss, collapse and failure have always been seen as not only unavoidable, but even necessary on the path to wisdom, freedom and personal maturity,” Blaszczak said.
He says he knows older people who struggled to rebuild their identities after they poured much of their earlier lives’ energies into professional and personal success.
“It is not that these professional or personal ideas were necessarily bad in themselves,” he said. “It is more that they proved inadequate. We invested way too much in them. We thought our identities could be formed by them.”
Jim Finley, a retreat leader and Catholic scholar, says Rohr is reminding people about the value of elders.
“Our culture tends to be youth-oriented, and a lot of spirituality is youth oriented,” says Finley, author “The Contemplative Heart.” “But our elders are the embodiment of the wisdom that life matters at a much deeper level than what we can achieve and produce.”
Brian McLaren, author of “The Naked Spirituality,” says Rohr’s book touches on an important paradox that you probably won’t hear in a Sunday morning sermon: “Imperfect people” are sometimes more equipped than “perfect people” to help those who are struggling.
“The person who never makes a mistake and always manages to obey the rules is often a compassionless person, because he sees people for whom the wheels have fallen off and he wonders what’s wrong with them,” he said. “But the person who feels that he has ruined his life often has more capacity for humility and compassion.”
McLaren says Rohr’s book helped reveal to him how much of his youthful spiritual energy was driven by narrow concerns.
“I’m embarrassed as I’m getting older about how much of my energy and vitality as a younger man was driven by ego and a win-lose mentality.”
Today Rohr seems driven by something else: The need for rest.
For years, his life has been a whirlwind. He’s traveled the globe speaking at retreats on everything from men’s spirituality to Catholic mysticism.
He also founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an organization that encourages acts of justice rooted in prayer and respect for other religious traditions.
Yet after almost seven decades of living, Rohr said, “I am still a mystery to myself.”
Rohr plans on solving some of that mystery. He says he’s going to retire in two years to spend more time at his home in New Mexico. He says he needs more time for contemplation.
“The first half of life, you write the text,” he said. “The second half of your life is when you write the commentary. You have to process what it all meant.”
As Rohr withdraws from speaking and writing, he will be challenged to follow his own advice. He’ll spend less energy on his “false self” as his old identity dissolves.
He says he’s ready, though, to fall upward. If he lost his position as a priest, author and respected speaker, he says he would still feel secure.
“Most of us don’t learn this until it is taken away, like losing the security of your 401(k). Then the learning either starts or you circle the wagons,” he said. “I know who I am beyond my roles.”
Texas teenager Ruth Angelica Gomez accused of faking cancer
12:35 PM, Sep 15, 2011
EL PASO, Texas - A West Texas teenager who collected $17,000 in donations after telling people she was dying of leukemia and had only had six months to live faces theft charges after police determined she lied about being sick.
Nine months later, Ruth Angelica Gomez, 18, of Horizon City is still very much alive and has been charged with theft by deception for receiving donations under false pretenses.
"We haven't found anything that indicates that she does have leukemia," Horizon City police Detective Liliana Medina told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Police began investigating in June, after someone complained that Gomez claimed she was terminally ill but did not appear to be sick. Gomez collected donations through an organization called Achieve the Dream Foundation, which she created earlier this year under the pretense of helping children with leukemia beat cancer.
Police filed state jail felony charges against Gomez earlier this week after subpoenaing her bank records, and the district attorney's office is reviewing the case before authorities consider any possible arrest.
No other suspects were involved, police said.
Gomez, a June graduate of Horizon City High about 20 miles east of El Paso, could not be reached for comment Wednesday and it was not immediately known if she had an attorney.
Although the website for her foundation was no longer in service, an archive showed a smiling Gomez sporting a dark T-shirt with her organization's green ribbon-shaped logo and the tagline: "Behind every fighter there is a supporter. Will you be mine?"
Hundreds responded to pleas Gomez made through motivational talks and fundraisers. Among those taken in were students at Da Vinci High School, who threw a prom party/fundraiser for her after she told them that she had missed her own senior prom because she was in treatment.
It was a dream prom with a limousine, a dress donated by a fancy boutique and Gomez, named queen of the dance.
But the end of 2010 was apparently a turbulent time for the teen. After returning from a trip to Kansas City, Mo., Gomez told her church that the cancer she had spent 11 years of her childhood battling had come back even stronger and she would not live to see the summer.
She also told Nicole Matsuda, a 28-year-old youth leader at the First Methodist Church and stay-at-home mother, that her parents had kicked her out of the house and asked for a place to temporarily stay.
"That is something we would do from time to time. We work with a lot of teenage kids," Matsuda told The Associated Press during in an interview at her Horizon City home in June.
"Now I hear that she told her parents that one of my children was sick and that I needed her to come help me," Matsuda said.
The two weeks that the Matsudas expected Gomez to stay with them turned into six months. "She came across as very nice, not what you think of when you think of a problem child," Matsuda said.
Pale and skinny, it was not hard for some people to think Gomez was ill. "She would be weak, always sleeping," Matsuda added.
From time to time, Gomez would ask people to drive her to a nearby hospital to get treatment but not to wait because she did not want to impose.
In an El Paso Times story in March, she said that from age 2 until she turned 13, she practically lived at the Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., battling leukemia. Hospital records show no patient with her name was treated at Children's Mercy within the past 10 years.
She also said she had been at the St. Jude Children's hospital, a medical center that specializes in cancer treatment. Hospital records show no one under the name Angie or Angelica Gomez ever being a patient there.
At times, when her story seemed contradictory, Matsuda said she would not get satisfactory explanations but "you almost felt guilty if you had a suspicion: How can you question someone who is dying?"
Freddy Alcantar, Gomez's fiance, said she fooled him, too. They were making plans to marry in August, he said in a June interview. She would take medications, he remembered. "But I didn't ask what kind; it was a sensitive subject." The last he heard from her was a brief call where she told him she was going away. "She just disappeared," he said.
After the news of the investigation came out, Alcantar said he was fired from his job, but he didn't blame her. "I don't know what's real and what's not," he said. "Hopefully, it's a rumor and it will blow over."
Gomez's mother, Sandra Gomez, posted a sign in one of the windows of her Horizon City home three months ago that read, "No comment, call the detective."
Detectives initially were baffled about how, in a city of less than 20,000 people and widespread media attention, the scam went on for so long. "The parents had seen the articles and they were trying to get her to correct them. But we don't know what she was telling them," Detective Jonathan Walden said. "They didn't talk too much" with their daughter.
Jose Ramirez, a teacher who accompanied the teen to press interviews and even proposed the El Paso City Council declare a week to raise awareness on leukemia, declined to comment because of orders from the school district.
In March, he told the El Paso newspaper: "A lot of times we don't pay attention to what students do. But the magnitude of what Angie is doing is something that can't be ignored.
LINK TO PHOTO:
Two Denver men charged after taking their dead friend for a ride
bought his roommate and a friend a round of drinks, Mexican food and a trip to strip club Shotgun Willie's the night of August 27, authorities say.
But while Jarrett was present for some of the night's fun, he wasn't alive to enjoy any of it.
After a shorter, but boozier and less amusing real-life version of the film Weekend at Bernie's, Denver prosecutors have charged two men with abusing a corpse, identity theft and criminal impersonation. Court papers say they loaded Jarrett's body into a car and drove him to various stops around Denver for a night — including a bar and a restaurant — while they used his ATM card.
Both Robert Jeffrey Young, 43, and Mark Rubinson, 25, are free on bond. Neither could be reached for comment.
Neither is charged with Jarrett's death. The cause has not yet been determined as toxicology tests are still underway.
A relative of Jarrett's, who asked not to be identified while the case is pending, said it began after Jarrett invited a struggling Young, a buddy from their days together at Colorado State University, to stay with him for a few months until Young could get on his feet, she said.
Then, on Aug. 27, Young arrived around 11 p.m. at Jarrett's southeast Denver home in the 1800 block of South Forest Street and found him unresponsive. Rather than calling 911, he went to the restaurant where Rubinson works, according to court documents.
A search warrant affidavit filed in the case outlines the rest of the night:
The pair returned to Jarrett's home, loaded him into Rubinson's Lincoln Navigator and took him to Teddy T's bar and grill. Jarrett's body remained in the backseat while the pair drank on his tab.
"Young stated ... that it was obvious Jarrett was dead while all three are at Teddy T's," Denver Det. Ranjan Ford wrote in the affidavit.
They next stopped at Sam's No. 3 before dropping off Jarrett's body back at his home.
Next stop was a meal at Viva Burrito, and then they somehow withdrew $400 at Shotgun Willie's, remaining at the Glendale strip club until closing time, Ford writes. It's not clear from the documents if the pair had Jarrett's ATM code.
Around 4 a.m. authorities say the pair flagged down a Glendale police officer and told him that Jarrett might be dead back at his house.
Young next appears in court Sept. 27. Rubinson next appears Oct. 4.
"This is a bizarre and unfortunate crime," said Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson. "This isn't anything you want to have happen to a loved one. You want them treated with respect in death."
The relative said Jarrett was a father and a professional who sold real estate and owned his home in southeast Denver. His family now wants to find out how he died, and whether he could have been saved if Young had called for help rather than going to meet a friend.
"We just want to make sure they're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," the relative said.
Woman admits spiking boyfriend's dinner with 2 lines of cocaine
Cookman, 29, of South Bound Brook facing multiple charges
My Cenral Jersey
SOUTH BOUND BROOK — A borough woman is facing multiple criminal charges after allegedly spicing up her boyfriend’s dinner with an unusual ingredient: cocaine.
Monica Cookman, 29, of Prospect Street is charged with poisoning, aggravated assault and possession of cocaine, authorities said.
According to an affidavit filed in Superior Court, Cookman’s boyfriend came to borough police headquarters at about 9 p.m. Friday to ask for a restraining order against his girlfriend.
The man told authorities that Cookman prepared his dinner earlier in the week, but when he started eating, his heart began racing and his throat went numb, the affidavit indicated. Investigators asked Cookman to come to police headquarters, where she gave a taped statement in which she admitted to putting two lines of cocaine in her boyfriend’s food, according to the document.
South Bound Brook Police Chief William King and other Somerset County law enforcement representatives called the case unusual, to say the least.
“That’s a new one for me,” King said.
The boyfriend wasn’t believed to have suffered serious injury as a result of the incident, King added.
California may send thousands of female prisoners home
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said offenders whose crimes were nonviolent, nonserious and not sexual, with less than two years remaining on their sentences, are eligible for the Alternative Custody Program, which was signed into law in 2010 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Approximately two-thirds of CDCR’s female inmates are mothers whose children are either with relatives or are in foster care,” CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate said in a press release. “ACP is a step in breaking the intergenerational cycle of incarceration, as family involvement is one of the biggest indicators of an inmate’s rehabilitation.”
About 45% of the state's 10,000 female inmates may be eligible for the program, the CDCR said. It may be made available to male inmates in the future, the department said.
Those admitted to the program will wear electronic monitors and be supervised by a parole agent, the CDCR said. They can serve their remaining time at home or in a residential substance-abuse or transitional-care facility, according to the agency.
The prisoners will be allowed to find jobs or attend classes during their release, the department said.
The state of California should save about $6 million a year under the program, the CDCR estimated.
California is under federal pressure to reduce inmate populations. The Supreme Court this summer upheld a lower court ruling that medical and mental health care for inmates in the state prison system falls below the level required by the Constitution.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in April a plan to reduce prison crowding by moving 33,000 low-level offenders to county jails. But the state is cash-strapped, and funding for that plan, estimated at $460 million in the first year, must be approved by voters in November.
California has the nation's largest prison system.
Methadone clinic considers offering cash to addicts
Northeast Baltimore program says it wants to attract users to treatment and reduce crime
The Baltimore Sun
7:14 PM EDT, September 13, 2011
A Northeast Baltimore clinic that once pitched on-demand methadone to desperate addicts during the late-night hours is focusing on a new idea — paying addicts to come in for treatment.
"We are targeting a non-traditional population of addicts that isn't so interested in treatment," said the Rev. Milton Williams, who runs Turning Point Clinic, housed in his New Life Evangelical Baptist Church. "This will be an incentive."
The state has yet to approve the original on-demand, or "open access" idea, citing federal rules that require, for example, a lengthy examination of anyone getting methadone, a Schedule 2 narcotic. The incentive, $20 supplied by a private foundation or other group yet to be named, is a "Plan B," one Williams believes doesn't need any special approvals because the program would be run as a traditional clinic, just at night with no appointments.
Williams had proposed the open-access clinic, from 6 p.m. to midnight, in June, with addicts getting methadone within 15 minutes of walking through his door. It would be an opportunity to steer addicts to traditional treatment, offered at the clinic during the day, though he said he expected many would eschew the opportunity. But he said such a clinic would most certainly stop the crimes of those needing money for a fix, crimes he often witnesses from his North Avenue church.
That idea won him support from some police officers and politicians. State health officials said they also supported the idea but needed a full plan to win federal approvals to be reimbursed the $90 to $150 weekly cost of methadone — a full plan the state says it has yet to get.
State officials also said Turning Point's traditional clinic has deficiencies, including the number of counselors available, and officials should focus on them before taking on a new program. Turning Point says those problems have been addressed.
"From our perspective, there are still questions that remain unanswered," said Kathleen Rebbert-Franklin, deputy director of the state's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration. "It's neither a yes nor a no. We need additional information to take the next step."
Backing up the state's reservations are some addictions experts, who say 15 minutes isn't enough time to do a proper evaluation of an addict. Addicts need, for example, to submit to a urine test because methadone cannot be provided to someone who is already high. And addicts need to be watched for adverse responses.
One expert also questioned the treatment value of using cash to lure hard-core addicts who don't yet want treatment.
Dr. Michael Fingerhood, an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University who treats addicts, said Turning Point may prevent some crimes. "And there is value in that," he said. "And having the program open at night when an addict suffers from cravings is a nice model."
He said a small number may actually decide to get traditional treatment, too, rather than the short-term detox Turning Point plans to offer. But most will come for the money — and use it to buy heroin.
"If you give an addict $20, he'll turn around a day later and spend $20 on drugs, even if he gets a dose of methadone," Fingerhood said. "Most programs that give incentives usually offer a voucher and not cash. Or why not give them food? Once word of mouth gets out that they are offering $20, people will come in droves for the money and not methadone. They won't know what to do."
Did ‘Debbie Cakes’ reference spark Hobe Sound beating?
September 13th, 2011 by TCPalm.com
Palm Beach Post
Deborah Frances Benafield apparently does not like being called “Debbie Cakes.”
That’s one observation that could be made after the 21-year-old woman’s arrest in a Sept. 8 incident involving her fiancee, a 23-year-old woman, according to recently released Martin County Sheriff’s records.
Deputies about 3:40 a.m. went to the area of Southeast Bayberry Terrace and Southeast Gomez Avenue in Hobe Sound and heard a woman yelling in the backyard of an address in the 8600 block of Southeast Bayberry Terrace.
They met a 23-year-old woman who said she and her fiancee — Benafield — had argued. The 23-year-old woman said that she, Benafield and a man were inside.
“Deborah was angry at (her fiancee) because (her fiancee) called her ‘Debbie Cakes,’ she hit (her fiancee) in the back of the head . . . approximately four times, but she was not injured,” an affidavit states.
The man said he saw Benafield hit her fiancee, but he apparently made no mention of “Debbie Cakes.”
Benafield, meanwhile, said she didn’t recall what happened because she “blacks out” when angry.
Being called “Debbie Cakes” might make some angry, but being given Little Debbie cakes makes others happy.
Little Debbie snack cakes, a staple of school lunch boxes nationwide for decades, come in dozens of varieties, including Oatmeal Crème Pies, Star Crunch Cosmic Snacks and Devil Squares.
One of Elvis Presley’s favorite snacks was Little Debbie Fudge Brownies, while Oatmeal Crème Pies are consumed daily by University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, the Little Debbie website states.
The affidavit didn’t state whether the “Debbie Cakes” spat will impact the pending nuptials.
Benafield, of the 8600 block of Southeast Bayberry Terrace in Hobe Sound, was arrested on a domestic battery charge.
In Britain, some schools banning skirts
Nailsea School is among a small but growing number of schools that have resorted to what one commentator calls 'the nuclear option' to end students' hemline creep: prohibiting skirts altogether.
Reporting from Nailsea, England — Thanks to the movies, Americans who have never set foot in this country have a fair idea of what British schoolchildren look like.
From Harry Potter and his pals at Hogwarts to the glowing-eyed demon spawn of the '60s horror classic "Village of the <snip>ed," the image is one of boys and girls neatly turned out in their matching school sweaters, trousers, skirts and ties.
But for some of today's non-magical, non-mutant students, a key piece of that picture is missing. Visit Nailsea School here in southwestern England, and about the only skirts you'll see are those on teachers; most of the girls on campus are required to dress like the boys, in standard-issue trousers, after the school amended its uniform policy this year to become a skirt-free zone.
It's a new approach to an old problem: the fight against rising hemlines, a perennial battle that probably brings back embarrassing memories for the mothers of many of today's schoolgirls.
Nailsea belongs to a small but growing number of schools in Britain that have given up chastising students for hemline creep and instead resorted to what one commentator calls "the nuclear option": blacklisting skirts altogether.
Sharna Griffin isn't happy about it.
Sure, some of her peers have cast modesty a bit too far to one side. "It is a bit of a problem, because we don't want to see their knickers. Walking up the stairs, you don't want to see whatever the girl's wearing under the skirt," the 15-year-old said.
But she thinks the ban smacks of collective punishment to students who obey the rules and don't let their regulation black skirts migrate much above the knee or disappear under their V-neck sweaters.
"I've never really been one to follow the crowd," Sharna said. "I don't think it's fair that the girls whose skirts are the correct length will not be able to wear them."
On the first two days of school, she showed up in a skirt in protest, only to be sent home early.
The decision at Nailsea and other schools to forbid skirts springs from the exasperation of administrators and teachers, who were tired of spending precious time forcing students to correct wardrobe malfunctions instead of getting them to ponder the Norman Conquest.
Girls who might've kissed their parents goodbye in the morning looking like paragons of virtue were arriving on campus with their skirts bunched up at the waist and drastically shortened. One headmaster in western England complained that his female students wore skirts that were "almost like belts," while a headmaster in a Scottish border town warned that the girls' increasingly revealing attire risked encouraging "inappropriate thoughts" among the boys.
Better to establish an environment that focuses attention on learning, not legs, than to maintain the status quo for the sake of tradition, educators say.
In general, there is little debate in this country over obliging children to wear uniforms to school, unlike in the United States, where the matter often becomes the subject of a fierce argument over civil liberties and freedom of expression.
Much of the relaxed attitude here may simply be a function of how long school uniforms have been a fixture on the British cultural and academic landscape.
By some accounts, the world's first school uniform debuted in England about 450 years ago at Christ's Hospital, a school for needy boys. Pupils at the now-private (and expensive) institution still deck themselves out much as they did in Tudor times, in dark blue overcoats, breeches for boys, pleated skirts for girls, white neckerchiefs, yellow socks and leather belts.
Although they resemble young seminarians, students voted overwhelmingly last year to keep their distinctive outfits rather than adopt any "modern" innovations.
Disputes over uniforms in Britain therefore have more to do with their specifications, not their existence. For campuses that have nixed skirts, grumbling has mainly come from parents and girls who want to have a choice between trousers and skirts, not scrap regulations altogether.
Educators say combating the rise of hemlines isn't about prudery but preventing the sexualization of children at ever-younger ages.
At publicly funded Nailsea School, where girls previously could choose between skirts and trousers, headmaster David New created a stir two years ago by banning trousers put out by a label called Miss Sexy.
"They were very low, hipster-style, very tight trousers. Staff were becoming embarrassed by seeing too much of the girls instead of the uniform," said New, who supervises 1,200 students in this commuter town outside the city of Bristol.
During the last school year, campus officials warned that skirts faced the chop as well for all 11- to 16-year-old girls if they couldn't manage to keep them at the specified length of just above the knee or lower. (Older girls in the school's "sixth form," the college-prep division, are exempt from wearing uniforms.)
When things didn't improve, school officials decided in May to make good on their threat. The new policy came into effect at the beginning of the new school year this month.
"I suspect that, teenagers being teenagers, there will be a new uniform violation that becomes the habit," New said resignedly. "That was true when I was at school, and I'm sure it was true when my father was at school."
Still, an outright ban on skirts seemed the best option.
"We didn't want to waste any more time on it," New said. "It just means that teachers can concentrate on what's important in education."
Even if the lesson turns out to be about history repeating itself.
Rush: Obama's Jobs Speech Misleading
“These are job-killing bills with names so fraudulent that we ought to be able to bring lawsuits,” he said. “If this went on in the private sector, it would not be permitted.”
Drunken moose ends up stuck in Swedish apple tree
Per Nyberg, CNN
(CNN)-- It was a dark, windy and rainy night when Per Johansson returned from work to his home in Saro just south of Gothenburg, Sweden.
"It was raining really bad. In the wind I heard something screaming with a very dark voice," Johansson told CNN. "At first I wondered if it was the crazy neighbors, but then I heard it again and went and checked. I saw something really big up in a tree in my neighbors' yard and it was a moose. It must have been drunk after eating fermented apples and as it was reaching out for more fruit it must have slipped and fallen into the tree."
Johansson called the local fire and rescue department, which responded with a fire engine and a jeep with a winch.
"We got the alarm at 9.59 p.m. on September 6 that a moose was stuck in a tree," said Anders Gardhagen, spokesman at the Gothenburg Fire and Rescue Services.
"When we arrived we used the winch to bend down the apple tree so the moose could get himself out of the tree. Once free, the moose collapsed on the ground and fell asleep. So we let him sleep it off and went back home" Gardhagen told CNN.
"Moose are attracted by the apple trees, and in the autumn when the apples have fallen off the trees we normally have at least one of these cases of intoxication. These apples, which ferment in their bellies, aren't part of their natural food, so they can get quite angry from this drunkenness," Gardhagen said.
Johansson's son, Gustav, who is about to turn 11, made sure to take lots of pictures of the ordeal.
"He is saving up to buy a PlayStation so he thought he would take pictures that he could sell," Johansson said.
CNN purchased three of Gustav's pictures.
When dawn came the day after it was freed from the tree, the moose had not yet left.
"When I went out for the newspaper it was still laying there on the ground, sleeping. By the time I left for work it was walking around the neighbor's yard on very shaky legs." Johansson said.
"Today the moose came back and walked around the yard," he added. "I think it likes it here."
MONICA LEWINSKY’s SAD LONELY LIFE
The ENQUIRER has learned that the infamous 38-year-old, who will always be remembered for her shocking affair with President Bill Clinton, bounces from New York to Los Angeles, crashing with family and desperately trying to live down her scandalous past.
“Monica’s self-esteem is at an all-time low,” an insider told The ENQUIRER.
“She’s given up her own place, and her handbag line crashed.
“Now she drifts between the two coasts and toys with ‘projects’ that probably will never get off the ground.”
Monica’s goal is to set up her own public relations firm, specializing in environmental issues, added the insider.
“She’s alone most of the time and is pretty much a social pariah. She’s given up on ever finding love – and doesn’t even have friends.
“Monica still feels like she’s the punch line to a dirty joke.”
Monica was 21 when she began working in the White House in 1995.
Her sexual relationship with Clinton, now 65, created a worldwide firestorm and led to a Republican-prompted impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate, where he was found not guilty and retained his office.
In late June, the former White House intern made a rare outing as part of a small dinner party at Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe in Hollywood – where gawkers at other tables let fly with wisecracks.
“Monica looked emotionless and barely talked,” an eyewitness told The ENQUIRER.
The irrelevancy of the Obama presidency
Friday, September 9, 1:29 AM
President Obama gave one of the most impassioned speeches of his presidency when he addressed a joint session of Congress on Thursday night. Too bad so many in the audience thought it was a big, fat joke.
“You should pass this jobs plan right away!” Obama exhorted. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.
“Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix,” Obama went on. Widespread laughter broke out on the GOP side of the aisle.
“This isn’t political grandstanding,” Obama said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) guffawed.
“This isn’t class warfare,” Obama said. More hysterics on the right.
“We’ve identified over 500 [regulatory] reforms, which will save billions of dollars,” the president claimed. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) giggled.
It was, in a way, more insulting than Joe Wilson’s “you lie” eruption during a previous presidential address to Congress. The lawmakers weren’t particularly hostile toward the president — they just regarded the increasingly unpopular Obama as irrelevant. And the inclination not to take the 43-percent president seriously wasn’t entirely limited to the Republicans.
The nation is in an unemployment crisis, and Obama was finally, belatedly, unveiling his proposals, but Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) thought this joint session of Congress would be a good time to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to autograph a copy of the children’s book “House Mouse, Senate Mouse.”
Former representative David Wu (D-Wash.), forced to resign this summer over accusations of sexual impropriety, nevertheless showed up for the speech (in a business suit rather than his tiger suit) and took a seat among the Democrats.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Vice President Biden set the tone at the start. Waiting for Obama to make his way down the center aisle, they stood before the House and had a talk — not about jobs, but about golf.
“Seven birdies, five bogeys,” Boehner reported to Biden.
“You’re kidding me!” the vice president said.
“I missed a four-foot, straight-on birdie on the last hole,” Boehner said of another round.
“Whoa!” the vice president said.
“So, the next day,” Boehner went on, “I shoot an 86! Ha, ha, ha!”
“That’s incredible,” the vice president said.
Boehner went on about other memorable golf moments before an aide let the men know that their microphones were live.
Obama rose to the occasion with a bold jobs proposal that delighted liberals but also had elements conservatives grudgingly endorsed. Yet long before the speech, both sides had concluded that it didn’t much matter: Obama has become too weak to enact anything big enough to do much good.
“I thought it was a great speech,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) But the odds of Obama getting his plan through Congress “are probably as good as the Nationals winning the league this year.”
Presidential addresses to Congress are often dramatic moments. This one felt like a sideshow. Usually, the press gallery is standing-room-only; this time, only 26 of 90 seats were claimed by the deadline. Usually, some members arrive in the chamber hours early to score a center-aisle seat; 90 minutes before Thursday’s speech, only one Democrat was so situated.
Republican leaders, having forced Obama to postpone the speech because of the GOP debate, decided they wouldn’t dignify the event by offering a formal, televised “response.” And the White House, well aware of Obama’s declining popularity, moved up the speech time to 7 p.m. so it didn’t conflict with the Packers-Saints NFL opener at 8:30.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) had planned to skip the speech to host a football party, but the Senate majority leader thwarted his plan. “Typical Harry Reid,” Vitter tweeted. “He’s now schdld votes that should’ve been this morn 4 right b4 & right AFTER prez’s speech. Pens me in 2 have 2 stay.”
Almost all Republicans ignored the calls of some within their ranks to boycott the speech. In fact, the empty seats were on the Democratic side. Democrats lumbered to their feet to give the president several standing ovations, but they struggled at times to demonstrate enthusiasm. When Obama proposed payroll tax cuts for small businesses, three Democrats stood to applaud. Summer jobs for disadvantaged youth brought six Democrats to their feet, and a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed produced 11 standees.
Obama spoke quickly, urgently, even angrily. Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) stared at the ceiling. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) scanned the gallery. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was seen reading a newspaper. And Republicans, when they weren’t giggling, were mostly silent.
Even a mention of Abraham Lincoln, “a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad,” brought no applause from the GOP side. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) yawned. One Republican backbencher, Jeff Landry of Louisiana, chose this moment to hold up a sign demanding “Drilling = Jobs.”
So now even Lincoln doesn’t merit Republican applause when Obama invokes his name? If it weren’t so disturbing, it would be kind of funny.
Serial butt-slasher who attacked nine women in Virginia identified
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, September 7th 2011, 8:34 PM
A serial butt-slasher wanted for slicing up nine female shoppers at Virginia malls has been unmasked.
Police in Fairfax County say they are hunting for Johnny Guillen Pimentel, 40, the Washington Times reported.
He was identified by cops after a tipster fingered him as the box-cutter-wielding fiend, the paper reported.
The suspect targets women in their teens or early twenties, authorities say. He distracts his victims before carving up their rear ends.
The nine victims reported being attacked between February and July. None were seriously injured.
Police say Pimentel could be driving a blue, 2003 Honda Civic with a license plate number of KLX2689, the paper reported.
Lawyer Charged With Murder, Drug Dealing and Prostitution Asks to Represent Himself
Sep 1st 2011 @ 2:08PM
When Queen Latifah's BMW was jacked in 1995, she called New Jersey lawyer Paul Bergrin. When the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal blew open, one of the soldiers involved got a hold of Paul Bergrin too, who represented him pro bono. When reputed mobster Angelo Prisco was indicted on various criminal charges, Paul Bergrin was his man.
Bergrin seeks to represent himself in one of the most HBO-worthy trials to ever rock the legal community. After his mother's death on Friday, Bergrin asked U.S. District Judge William Martino to delay his consideration of the issue until he could "think with a clear head," according to Bergrin's current counsel, Lawrence Lustberg, and as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
If Bergrin stands by his request, which Lustberg says he probably will, and if the request is granted, which experts say is likely, then Bergrin will join the "Underwear Bomber," Warren Jeffs, and drug activist NJWeedman in arguing his own defense before the court.
After Begrin's client Jason Itzler, the "King of All Pimps," was jailed in 2005, Bergrin allegedly took over his high-end New York escort service, New York Confidential, which could boast (but tactfully did not) Eliot Spitzer as a big-name client.
Bergrin also allegedly operated a multimillion-dollar cocaine-distribution network with his live-in girlfriend, Yolanda Jauregui, using a Newark restaurant as a front.
The indictment also claims that Bergrin had one witness in a drug case murdered and hired a hit man to kill another. That hit man just happened to be a cooperating government witness, who recorded dozens of their conversations.
When Bergrin was arrested in May 2009, an FBI agent said that he had become "house counsel for a number of criminal organizations, including . . . the Latin Kings, the Bloods, and a number of high-level drug-trafficking organizations."
Bergrin "essentially become one of the criminals he represents," said Ralph Marra, the acting U.S. attorney for New Jersey.
Three former co-defendants, his one-time law partner Thomas Moran, cocaine kingpin Vincente Esteves, and girlfriend Jauregui, have all pled guilty and are cooperating with authorities.
While there are some risks involved in self-representation, it will give Bergrin the chance to cross-examine his former co-defendants, and address the jury without examination through his opening and closing statements.
"The cliche is that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client," Rutgers University Law School Professor George Thomas told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "But this may be the exception that proves the rule."
Sarah Rice/For the Star-LedgerPaul Bergrin is a high-profile criminal defense attorney in New Jersey who was recently charged with being involved in an upscale call girl service in New York.
Debate Stirs Over Fast Food Restaurants Taking Food Stamps
5:58 PM CDT, September 7, 2011
(Memphis 9/7/2011) Fast food chains may be lobbying to allow more of them to be able to accept food stamps, or now known as SNAP, supplemental nutrition assistance program.
USA Today reports federal documents show Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver’s and Pizza Hut, is lobbying to expand the restaurant meal program.
Currently, four states have allowed certain restaurants to accept SNAP benefits, and Puerto Rico is going through a pilot program.
If other places were to participate too, a law from the 1970’s states the local entity, like a county and/or state, would have to approve the restaurants as part of the program.
Even so, only certain SNAP recipients can be eligible to get their food from a restaurant: the homeless, elderly and disabled.
The idea is to help most recipients make their dollar go further by buying food at grocery stores to cook at home. But the homeless who have no kitchen, or the elderly and disabled who cannot cook for themselves, would be allowed to use their benefits at restaurants where local governments have approved that.
Marcia Wells, the vice president of communications at the Mid-South Food Bank, said it’s a tough call.
“You are not going to be able to get as much food for your money as if you go to the grocery store, or the farmer’s market or some place like that and buy food that you prepare at home,” she said.
On the other hand, “For them, maybe this is one way to deal with it. Because this way at least they can get a hot meal.”
Fast food customers in South Memphis had different opinions on whether SNAP benefits should be used on tacos or buckets of chicken.
“It’s not right,” said Manuel Esquivel. “We aren’t supposed to pay for that. No, no. Our taxes are not supposed to be paying for that.”
Even though he eats fast food, he also prepares balanced meals at home. He agrees buying food at a grocery store to cook gets you much more for your dollar than buying fast food for all meals.
But Jamicheal Humes, who eats fast food often, said it’s a great idea.
“It helps people out with low-budget money, you know. People who can’t really afford to eat out who want to eat out,” he said.
Humes said people should be allowed to buy whatever food they want.
Wells, who often goes to distribution centers for the Mid-South Food Bank, said people who don’t know where their next meal comes from are generally savvy about what foods are good for them.
At one distribution in Raleigh, Wells said, “the woman doing the orientation said, ‘we have fresh produce today!’ And they cheered. I mean, they went ‘yay!’ and they had bananas and lettuce.”
The Economy's Latest Casualty: America's Baby Bottoms
Whether Due to Penny-Pinching or Parent Laziness, Infants Are Getting Short-Changed
September 06, 2011
Baby bottoms in the U.S. look to be in worse shape than ever, and the economy -- or inattentive parents -- may be to blame.
Sales of diaper-rash cream are up, rising for the third straight year on a unit basis, even though the number of babies has kept declining over that period. Data suggest that babies are getting diaper rash more often because parents are changing their diapers less.
The number of babies ages 2 and under in the U.S. fell about 3% to 8.1 million last year, based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which tracks the number of live births. Yet SymphonyIRI data show unit sales of disposable diapers fell 9% in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7, three times as fast as the population of infants. At the same time, unit sales of baby ointments and creams rose 2.8%, despite fewer babies.
Diaper rash doesn't rise to the level of concern that the CDC tracks cases, so sales of diaper-rash cream are one of the better barometers for tracking its frequency. And the trend of diaper-ointment sales rising even as diaper sales decline has been going on since 2009, according to SymphonyIRI data from Deutsche Bank. The disconnect between fewer diapers and more rash cream has intensified in the past year.
Yet, it's easy to see why parents would be more reluctant to do so. Unemployment has been persistently high, and diapering, with costs estimated at $1,500 annually, is one of the biggest line items on the new baby ledger.
For its part, Pampers marketer Procter & Gamble is having none of the blame-the-parents theory. A spokesman said in an email that the company hasn't identified a trend in the U.S. toward people changing diapers less often, though it has observed parents trying to potty train their youngsters earlier to save money.
As a possible guide for parental quality benchmarking, P&G research finds U.S. babies get their diapers changed on average 6.3 times daily. That's more than the normally fastidious Germans (5.06 times daily) or the French (5.15) and way more than the Russians (3.84), but not quite so attentive as the Japanese (6.45).
Arizona Walmart employees rob store to fund sex change
6:42 PM CDT, September 7, 2011
September 3, 2011
Man, 61, joins college football team
VERNA GATES, Reuters
BIRMINGHAM - When the recession booted Alan Moore out of a 37-year career in civil construction, he kicked back -- by becoming a kicker for an Alabama college football team at age 61.
On Saturday, Moore, affectionately referred to as "Pops" by his Faulkner University teammates, will get his first chance to kick in public for the small Christian school during a squad scrimmage in Montgomery. Four of his five grandchildren will be there to watch.
"I came back to play football," he told Reuters. "I know I can do it."
Back in his glory year of 1968, Moore kicked for a national title for Holmes Community College in Goodman, Mississippi. He had taken up the position in high school, thrilling his mother by kicking an extra point. The late Agnes Moore called it "the prettiest play she had ever seen."
"My momma wanted me to kick a football," he said.
But Moore's football career ended early in 1969 with the Vietnam War draft looming over his head. He and a buddy joined the Army thinking they could choose where they served.
Instead, he spent 10 months in a bunker, and his buddy was shot and paralyzed. Moore came home to work and raise a family, with college by then a distant dream.
He started practicing football again after he was laid off in 2009.
"When I walked into Dick's Sporting Goods store, it was the first football I had touched in 40 years," Moore said.
While his contemporaries laughed, he gained enough skill to receive interest from three colleges, he said. He chose Faulkner, which gave him a small football scholarship, because "they made me feel like family." The school has 830 undergraduates in Montgomery as well as a law school and adult students, according to its website.
It wasn't really the football career Moore said he was looking to finish. Instead, he decided to return to college and the game to inspire young people to never give up.
"It is not about me, it is about we, and I know I can motivate kids," said Moore, who is taking 12 hours of courses and living in a dormitory.
His teammates are teaching him, too. Moore said he can now text with two thumbs, far from the days when "you had to have a pocket full of quarters to communicate."
But on the field, he is strictly old-school, kicking the football straight-on with his toes rather than soccer style.
"They didn't even sell soccer balls when I played in 1968," he said.
Month a baby is born 'suggests what career they will have'
The time of year a baby is born can shape what profession they will embark on in later life, a new study has suggested.
8:30AM BST 05 Sep 2011
Being born in a certain month appears to indicate the statistical likelihood of what job a person will end up with, the study by the Office for National Statistics found.
Researchers have uncovered that the month in which babies are born could also affect everything from intelligence to length of life.
A child born December is more likely to become a dentist while someone whose birthday falls in January will tend to a debt collector, they found.
A February birth appears to increase the chances of being an artist while March babies appear to go on to become pilots
Meanwhile, April and May are said to have a fairly even spread of professions, births in the summer months mean a much lower chance of becoming a high-earning football player, doctor or dentist.
Although these trends may be difficult to explain, correlations between birth months and specific health problems have a scientific basis.
Spring babies are at greater risk of illnesses including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and autism.
They may also be less clever than classmates born in other parts of the year.
Research has suggested many of the differences are linked to a mother’s exposure to sunlight in pregnancy.
Sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D in the body and lack of this in the first months of life may have long-lasting effects.
Speaking earlier this year, Russell Foster, an Oxford University neuroscientist, said the effects were small “but they are very, very clear”.
“I am not giving voice to astrology – it’s nonsense – but we are not immune to seasonal interference,” he said.
“It seems absurd the month in which you are born can affect life chances, but how long you live, how tall you are, how well you do at school, your body mass index as an adult, your morning-versus-evening preference and how likely you are to develop a range of diseases are all correlated to some extent with the time of year in which you emerge from the womb.”
$200,000 Bottle Of Scotch
Sep 5, 2011
Crafted by Royal Salute as a liquid tribute to the oldest crown jewels in the British Isle, The Honours of Scotland, Tribute To Honours is a blend of some of Chivas Brothers’ oldest and finest whiskey in an over-the-top package.
Master Blender Colin Scott selected a few casks of very well aged whiskey, all at least 45 years old, considered some of the best around. With such a high quality whiskey, they commissioned Garrard, “the world’s oldest jewelers”, to craft a bottle made from black porcelain, adorned with 413 flawless black and white diamonds, as well as 22 carats of other gemstones, set in gold and silver.
Obviously a luxury this rare, only 21 bottles were created, comes at a price. The bottles will cost you $200,000 each.
Sign Ignites Controversy After High School Football Game
Fox 8 News Reporter
10:27 PM EDT, September 3, 2011
Kirtland crushed Painesville Harvey during Friday night's high school football game, but it was what happened after the game that has people talking.
"At the conclusion of the game, some of their students and parents put up a sign that we believe was racial intimidation, ethnic intimidation," said Roderick Coffee, president of the Lake County chapter of the NAACP, who was also at the game.
"For them to put it up there that was bad sportsmanship, too," Painesville Harvey football player, Jerome Becks said.
The big sign read: 'You Mad Bro.'
"I think the reference to 'bro' in the sign definitely has a racial connection to it," said Michael Hanlon, superintendent for Painesville City Schools.
No doubt, the sign offended people.
But some don't believe it was meant to be racist.
"I really don't I think the kids were just trying to say, 'Are you mad?' But you still don't need to put a sign up like that, and there's so many parents that felt the same way I did," Kirtland parent, Edie Cymbal said.
According to the Urban Dictionary, which is basically the online Wikipedia of slang, the phrase 'you mad bro?' means "To make a ragin [sic] person rage even more by asking the most ironic question."
To use an older slang phrase, kicking someone when they are down.
Kirtland High School Principal Lynn Campbell says there will be a thorough investigation.
"Any mal-intent at any game no matter where, is not supported, you know, the lack of sportsmanship, from taunting to insensitivity," Campbell said.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Inmate Visits Now Carry Added Cost in Arizona
The New York Times
September 4, 2011
For the Arizona Department of Corrections, crime has finally started to pay.
New legislation allows the department to impose a $25 fee on adults who wish to visit inmates at any of the 15 prison complexes that house state prisoners. The one-time “background check fee” for visitors, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, has angered prisoner advocacy groups and family members of inmates, who in many cases already shoulder the expense of traveling long distances to the remote areas where many prisons are located.
David C. Fathi, director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the fee “mind-boggling” and said that while it was ostensibly intended to help the state — the money will be used to repair and maintain the prisons — it could ultimately have a negative effect on public safety.
“We know that one of the best things you can do if you want people to go straight and lead a law-abiding life when they get out of prison is to continue family contact while they’re in prison,” he said. “Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
One woman, whose brother is a prisoner at the Eyman complex in Florence, said that most of her family lives out of state, so the fee is an additional burden on top of the travel costs.
“What will happen is that people will just stop visiting,” said the woman, adding that most prisoners “live for” visits from relatives. Because some friends of the family still do not know of her brother’s incarceration, she asked to be identified only by her first name, Shauna. She was one of several dozen family members of inmates who complained to Middle Ground Prison Reform, a group based in Tempe, about the fee.
In a lawsuit filed last month against the Corrections Department, Middle Ground said the fee was simply a pretext for raising money “for general public purposes” and as such was unconstitutional because it amounted to a special tax on a single group.
Middle Ground has also filed suit over another provision of the law, which imposes a 1 percent charge on deposits made to a prisoner’s spending account.
Donna Leone Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground, said she thought that state legislators created the background check fee “out of sheer financial desperation” at a time when the state faces huge budget shortfalls.
“This was a scheme — in my mind, a harebrained scheme — to try to come up with the money,” she said.
Wendy Baldo, chief of staff for the Arizona Senate, confirmed that the fees were intended to help make up the $1.6 billion deficit the state faced at the beginning of the year.
“We were trying to cut the budget and think of ways that could help get some services for the Department of Corrections,” Ms. Baldo said. She added that the department “needed about $150 million in building renewal and maintenance and prior to this year, it just wasn’t getting done and it wasn’t a safe environment for the people who were in prison and certainly for the people who worked there.”
Ms. Baldo said the money would not actually pay for background checks but would go into a fund for maintenance and repairs to the prisons.
Barrett Marson, a spokesman for the Corrections Department, said in an e-mail that it was the department’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.
Although there have been some calls and letters from potential visitors inquiring about the fee and how to pay it, no complaints had been reported from inmates, Mr. Marson said. The department has not determined whether the number of visitors to the prisons has changed since the charge went into effect, he added.
“Maintenance funds for our buildings are scarce in this difficult economic time,” he said. “A $25 visitation fee helps to ensure our prisons remain safe environments for staff, inmates and visitors.”
Ms. Hamm, the Middle Ground director who is also a retired lower court judge and married to a former inmate, said that an earlier proposal presented to a legislative committee would have imposed the background check fee on everyone who visited inmates, including babies and children. But in the end, the Legislature limited the fees to people over 18.
The law also allows the Corrections Department to waive all or part of the background check fee in certain circumstances — for example, when an applicant just wants permission to telephone an inmate.
Ms. Hamm said that research by her organization could not find any other example of a state prison system imposing a fee on visitors.
The Arizona Corrections Department, Ms. Hamm said, has run perfunctory checks on visitors for years. In its application form, the department requires visitors to provide their name, date of birth and a driver’s license or other photo identification number. Providing a Social Security number on the application is optional, and no fingerprints are required.
Another state agency, the Department of Public Safety, conducts free background checks for people who want to review their own records and who provide fingerprints, said Carrick Cook, a spokesman.
The Public Safety Department charges $20 for criminal background checks of people who are hired as volunteers for state agencies, and $24 for checks on paid state workers, both of which involve fingerprinting. A fingerprint clearance card, required for child care and foster care workers in Arizona, costs $65 for volunteers and $69 for paid employees.
Shauna, whose brother is at the Eyman complex, said she learned about the fee after she filed applications for her brother’s son, a Mormon missionary in Kentucky who wanted to visit his father, along with a friend and two other relatives.
She was told that the best way to pay the fee was electronically, through Western Union, but was unable to get the system to work, she said.
She was then advised to send a money order. Despite confirmation by United Parcel Service that the package had been delivered, the Corrections Department told her that the $100 payment — four $25 money orders for four visitors — had not been received, she said.
Another $100 payment was sent, and on Friday — months after she began the application process — she finally got confirmation of the payment from the department.
“I have now spent $200 of my own money to get family in,” she said, adding that it could take up to 60 days for the department to approve the applications.
Bank of America 'called grieving widow 48 times a day to remind her of husband's debt'
Last updated at 9:47 PM on 3rd September 2011
Bank of America bombarded a grieving widow with calls up to 48 times a day to remind her that her recently deceased husband had missed a mortgage payment, it is claimed.
Deborah Crabtree, from Honolulu, Hawaii, is suing the bank after she said she was called by debt collectors as often as every 15 minutes including during the wake for her husband.
According to papers filed in Hawaii, Mrs Crabtree told the bank that she would pay the debt as soon as she received her husband's life insurance pay out, but the bank continued to threaten to foreclose on her home.
Lawsuit: Bank of America is being sued by a widow who said she was harrassed by constant phone calls after the death of her husband
The bank told the widow that it was unable to stop the calls until the debt was paid as they were computer generated.
Mrs Crabtree claimed that the calls began the day after her husband died of cancer.
She told the bank that she only had $5,000 cash to hand, which was needed for food and to bury her husband, but debt collectors told her that she must use it to pay them.
Demands: Bank of America allegedly demanded that the widow hand over cash needed for her husband's funeral
Mrs Crabtree said she and her family spent her husband's wake repeatedly hanging up the phone on calls from the bank.
The bank demanded evidence that her husband was dead, but after this was sent the bank allegedly said it had been lost.
It is also claimed that the bank started to ask to speak to Mrs Crabtree's husband, even though she repeatedly told them he was dead.
Pass, Fail and Politics
The New York Times
September 3, 2011
IT’S a foolish question, asking how smart a politician is.
It’s too vague. It ignores all the different wrinkles of intelligence and ways to measure it, along with the debatable link between brain power as it’s typically defined and skilled governance in terms of actual results. It’s a vessel for prejudices, a stand-in for grievances.
And yet it comes back around almost every election cycle, as it’s doing now.
Meet Rick Perry. At Texas A&M University, his grades were so poor he was on academic probation. He flunked advanced organic chemistry, which, in his defense, sounds eminently flunkable. He got a C in animal breeding, which doesn’t. For a “principles of economics” course, he attained a glittering D, as The Huffington Post detailed. You won’t be hearing him mention that much amid all his talk about Texas jobs creation.
His academic background, coupled with his rejection of climate change and fondness for gauzy generalities, prompted a story in Politico last week with this subtle headline: “Is Rick Perry Dumb?”
Based on grades alone, it seems so. But by that yardstick, even a politician as outwardly cerebral as Al Gore has some explaining to do. Gore got his very own college D — in a course about man’s place in nature, no less. Granted, this was at Harvard. But still.
Perry can’t dazzle in policy discussions. That’s also clear. The farther he ventures from Texas, the smaller he shrinks. When the radio talk show host Laura Ingraham recently tried to get him to say something specific — anything specific — about how America should deal with China, he clung so tightly to banalities that she was forced twice to plead: “What does that mean?”
But he’s savvy enough to have assembled a political team and adopted a political strategy that have him leading the (flawed) Republican field in a raft of recent polls. There’s something to that. Something more than excellent hair.
I’m less troubled by how thickheaded Perry may be than by how wrongheaded we already know he is on issues like evolution, which he says is just a theory, and homosexuality, which he has likened to alcoholism.
President Obama has those issues right. And can talk authoritatively about them and most others. A former editor of the Harvard Law Review, he has that kind of mind, that kind of fluency. In this one poised man, erudition and eloquence join hands.
But they don’t save him. Last week, he set himself up once again to look like the nation’s deferrer in chief by proposing a date for his jobs speech that had the possibility of provoking Republican opposition and did precisely that, at which point he retreated. Is this the Mother-May-I presidency? With John Boehner in the role of paddle-wielding matriarch?
That many Republicans will viciously seize any opportunity to defy and undercut Obama is a lesson he should have learned by now. Regardless of who was being unreasonable, it was he who actually ended up sending an e-mail to supporters with the one-word subject line “frustrated.” The president of the United States is supposed to salve our frustrations, not meekly bemoan his own.
Shouldn’t he or someone in his inner circle have foreseen the potential for events unfolding in such a humiliating fashion and made sure to avoid it? Apparently no one did, and that suggests a deficit of smarts by almost any definition of that ludicrously imprecise term.
Worse yet, this was only the latest in a long series of questionable calculations. Was it smart/prudent/pick-your-adjective to lavish all that precious post-election political capital on health care reform rather than economic revitalization and jobs creation, especially if it winds up being the first in a chain of dominoes that leads to defeat in 2012 and the repeal of that precise legislation?
Was it smart/prudent/pick-your-adjective not to head off a debt-ceiling showdown by settling the matter during last year’s lame-duck session of Congress, before Republicans took the reins in the House? And, during the showdown, didn’t Obama and his advisers misjudge both the zeal of some House Republicans and the magnitude of his own powers of persuasion?
Time and again, Obama hasn’t been a prescient or brutal enough tactician and hasn’t adjusted his high-minded ways to the low-minded sport of Congressional politics. That’s a failure of some kind, and intelligence may be one word for it.
“Is Obama Smart?” the Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens asked in early August. That was the headline, and it’s at least as good a question, in terms of the president’s political efficacy of late, as the one Politico posed about Perry.
THAT Perry’s headline contained the harsher adjective — “dumb” — is typical, say many Republicans, who complain that journalists tend to equate the anti-intellectualism and populist affects of many of their party’s candidates with outright stupidity. They cite Ronald Reagan as an example of someone first dismissed as a dunce and understood only later to be wise in some basic, consequential ways.
And they say that Democrats get a greater pass on gaffes than Republicans do. There’s merit to the argument. The recent verbal hiccup with which Joe Biden seemed to endorse China’s one-child policy lengthened a formidable list of Bidenisms, including his statement in 2007 that Obama, as a presidential contender, was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” But Biden’s intelligence is seldom questioned, not the way it would be if he had a Tea Party affiliation and Southern drawl.
Then there’s the whole matter of whether we’re well served by a brainy president. In an excellent piece in Slate in 1999, Jacob Weisberg explored a growing body of thought that a president’s supposed brilliance (or lack thereof) has no bearing on success in office. By this theory, relatively ordinary smarts yielded extraordinary accomplishment (Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman) while extreme intelligence led to defeat (Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Herbert Hoover).
Weisberg rightly noted the huge flaws with this analysis, including the small sample size and the subjectivity involved in judging achievement. Here’s another: what makes Carter more brilliant than Roosevelt — or, for that matter, Reagan?
That assessment reflects a narrow, traditional understanding of smarts as a sort of academic aptitude, a facility with facts and language. But a whole genre of best-selling books over the last decade and a half insist — correctly, I think — that there are various ways to be clever: “Emotional Intelligence,” “The Wisdom of Crowds,” a knack for gut responses formed in the span of a “Blink.” None require exemplary SAT scores.
Instead of talking about how smart politicians are or aren’t, we should have an infinitely more useful, meaningful conversation about whether we share and respect their values and whether they have shown themselves to be effective. Someone who rates high on both counts is someone to rally unreservedly around.
Right now, neither Perry nor Obama fits that double bill.
Charter school for kids with behavioral problems expelled student on first day
5:12 PM EDT, September 2, 2011
Kerlin Fedee thought she had found the perfect fit for her daughter — a school dedicated to the needs of young children with behavioral problems.
"They said they would be able to help her and would love to have her," Fedee said.
But Fedee was disillusioned quickly. Aspire Charter Academy in Orlando, which opened this fall, kicked out 6-year-old Natalie Querette on the first day.
Natalie, a first grader, sometimes bites, kicks and spits, especially in a new situation. She has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Her mother said the principal told her at the end of the first day that the school couldn't help Natalie because she screamed, bit and hit the teacher.
Aspire is run by Pam Schenkel, who spent 18 years as a behavioral support administrator in Orange County schools.
A week before the school year began, Schenkel said Aspire would fill an unmet need within the county.
The school, for kindergarten through grade 2, would serve many children who had spent months out of school for behavioral reasons, Schenkel said.
"If the school isn't going to educate them, they feel isolated," she said of the families.
District policy calls for schools, including charters, to call together a team of adults to discuss a disabled student's placement when problems arise. This is part of the federally required Individualized Education Program for students with disabilities.
But Schenkel said the charter has its own rules. "We're just following our handbook," she said.
Fedee has been invited to present her case to the school's Board of Directors at its meeting Wednesday night.
She filed a complaint with Orange County Public Schools, although there is little the district can require a charter school to do.
As a preschooler, Natalie was kicked out of Waterbridge Elementary on the first day of school for spitting and biting. Her mother took her to the UCP Downtown Orlando Campus, which she attended through spring. Natalie couldn't continue at UCP because of transportation issues.
Fedee said Natalie, who loves "Finding Nemo," riding her bike and being read to, had no behavioral problems all summer. "I don't know what's going on with her."
After being kicked out of Aspire, Natalie spent the rest of the first week out of school. Fedee enrolled her at Waterbridge, her neighborhood school, the following Monday.
After one day there, staff began evaluating whether to send her to another elementary, Endeavor, which takes students with mental disabilities from seven southwest Orange County elementary schools. Meanwhile, the school has required her mother to pick up Natalie by 11:00 a.m.
"Apparently Aspire Charter Academy does not practice what they preach," Fedee said.
She hoped speaking out would help "so other parents do not go through what I had to."
College professor allegedly led motorcycle gang, drug ring [Updated]
A Cal State San Bernardino professor who allegedly led a chapter of the Devils Diciples motorcycle gang was charged Thursday with heading up a methamphetamine drug ring that involved several other dealers.
[Updated at 1 p.m.: The motorcycle gang intentionally misspells "disciples" in its name, as can be seen in the jackets above.]
Stephen Kinzey, a 43-year-old professor of kinesiology, is considered a fugitive and is being aggressively sought by authorities, Sheriff Rod Hoops said at a morning news conference at sheriff’s headquarters in San Bernardino. Nine others involved in the drug ring have been arrested since Friday, he said.
“It’s alarming to me -- I have kids in college -- to have an associate professor who is a member of Devils Diciples dealing methamphetamine,” Hoops said. Authorities are trying to determine if he was involved in any drug dealing on campus.
The six-month investigation culminated with a joint drug task force raiding Kinzey’s home Friday, recovering a pound of methamphetamine as well as a number of rifles, handguns and biker paraphernalia, he said.
Kinzey’s live-in girlfriend, Holly Robinson, 33, a 2005 Cal State San Bernardino graduate, was taken into custody during the raid and faces charges of possession and sale of methamphetamine and numerous firearms violations.
Det. Jason Rosenbaum said that Robinson was Kinzey’s business partner and helped him distribute meth to mid-level dealers in the cities of San Bernardino, Highland, Redlands and the community of Mentone.
[Updated at 1 p.m.: Meanwhile, Cal State San Bernardino President Albert Karnig issued the following statement: “To our knowledge, this is the first notice that anyone on our campus has had regarding this situation. Our university police department and the entire campus community, as relevant, will work as closely as possible with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to assist with the investigation to help assure that all the facts are accurate. If the allegations are indeed true, this is beyond disappointing.”
Kinzey, who has taught at Cal State San Bernardino for 10 years, has a doctorate degree from the University of Toledo, a masters from Indiana State University and a bachelors degree from Wayne State University in Michigan.]
Maya Angelou furious over shortened quote on MLK memorial that makes King look like 'arrogant twit'
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, September 1st 2011, 4:00 AM
Poet Maya Angelou, who is a consultant for the memorial, is fuming because she believes the restated words completely change the quote's meaning in a way that is unflattering to King, The Washington Post reported.
"The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit," she railed.
But Ed Jackson Jr., the executive architect of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, told the paper he got the thumbs-up from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which was overseeing design of the memorial.
The original quote comes from a speech King gave during a sermon at an Atlanta church two months before he was assassinated.
"If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice," King said, riffing on how he might be described after his death.
"Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter."
But that was not the quote that ended up carved into the north face of the 30-foot-tall granite statue in Washington D.C. It now reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."
Angelou, who was one of those chosen to pick out quotes for the statue, told the paper that the shortened version of the quote radically misses the point.
"It makes him seem less than the humanitarian he was," she said. "It makes him seem an egotist."
"He had no arrogance at all," she continued. "He had a humility that comes from deep inside. The 'if' clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely."
The designers of the memorial originally intended to inscribe the entire quote on the statue's south face, the paper reported. But a change in plans moved the "drum major" quote onto the north face, where there wasn't enough room.
Jackson told the paper that the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts agreed to use the paraphrased quote.
"We sincerely felt passionate that the man's own eulogy should be expressed on the stone," Jackson said. "We said the least we could do was define who he was based on his perception of himself: 'I was a drum major for this, this and this.'"
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