Tuesday, December 30, 2008

11-Year-Old Hypothermia Victim's Father Charged with Murder

Robert Aragon, 55, the father of an 11-year-old girl who died of hypothermia while trying to walk to her mother's in the snow, has been charged with murder.

That old adage of "walking 10 miles through to the snow to get to school?" We all know it's generally not true. So why would Robert Aragon let his 12-year-old son Bear and 11-year-old daughter Sage try to walk 10 miles through knee-deep snow to their mother's house?

The children live with Aragon in Jerome, Idaho and he was taking them to visit their mother, JoLeta Jenks, in West Magic on Christmas Day. But his truck became snowbound, and authorities allege Aragon told them to walk to their mother's house while he and another adult stayed behind to work on the truck.

Jenks finally called Aragon when no one showed up at her house. To make matters worse, once he freed his truck, Aragon drove back to Jerome, not even bothering to make sure they were OK.

A Blaine County search and rescue team found the boy at a rest area near the highway shortly before 10 PM on Thursday night. Bear was only wearing long underwear, as hypothermia had affected him to the point of delusion. There was no sign of Sage, but he told authorities she had said she was going back to the truck.

Sage Aragon was found the next morning, dead of suspected hypothermia, after search and rescue dogs found her at about 2 AM.

Robert Aragon is accused of felony injury to a child and second-degree murder. Bail has been set at $500,000.

Aragon's family members do not believe the charge is justified. Personally, it's a difficult decision. He is going to have to live with this the rest of his life, and perhaps rather than being guilty of a crime, he is simply guilty of being foolish or negligent.

However, it is amazing that he would not have called the mother to tell her the children were walking to her house however. The search for the children did not begin until 7 PM, and he let them out of the truck at 9 AM.

Temperatures in the area at the time of the incident ranged from 27 degrees above zero to -5.

Judge Mark Ingram on Monday set a bond review hearing, to perhaps loweer Aragon's bail, for Wednesday, appointed a public defender for Aragon, and scheduled a pretrial hearing for Jan. 7.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bristol Palin Gives Birth to a Boy, Tripp

Bristol Palin, the teenage daughter of Sarah Palin who cast an unexpected light on her mother's vice-presidential run when it was announced she was pregnant, out-of-wedlock, has given birth to a boy. Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and was born on Sunday.

The name Tripp certainly fits in with the naming convention of Sarah Palin; her kid's names are Track, 19; Bristol, 18; Willow, 14; Piper, 7; and Trig, 7 months. Apparently Bristol Palin wanted to keep the same sort of naming scheme.

Levi Johnston, an apprentice electrician and a former hockey player at Wasilla High School, is the baby's father. Although the families have announced that he and Bristol Palin intend to be wed, they still have not done so. It's unclear why not, although they have said they plan to marry in 2009. That makes the baby technically illegitimate, and you wouldn't expect the Palin family to approve of that.

Johnston's mother, Sherry Johnston, was recently arrested on drug charges.

Colleen Jones, who is governor Palin's aunt, told People:
"We think it's wonderful. The baby is fine and Bristol is doing well. Everyone is excited."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stalin Ranked as Third-Greatest Russian in Poll

Despite being responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviets in labor camps and purges, as well as throwing millions at the Germans, some without weapons, in WWII, former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin finished third in a recent poll by a TV station, state-run Rossiya.

The Great Purge of the 1930s, was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union during 1937 - 38. It resulted in the deaths of up to 2 million people.

The project, the "Name of Russia," has a site here.

In first place was Russian medieval leader Alexander Nevsky, with 524,575 votes. In second place was Pyotr Stolypin, a prime minister early in the 20th century under Czar Nicholas II, who was assassinated in 1911, with 523,766 votes. Stalin finished with 519,071 votes.

Nevsky defeated various European invaders during his 13th-century reign and was subsequently canonized.

Stolypin, while recognized for land reform, is also notorious for his brutal quashing of leftist revolutionaries, seeing to it that hundred were hung.

Stalin, an ethnic Georgian by birth, led for much of the campaign. Then the show's producer appealed to viewers to vote for someone else, according to the BBC.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki human rights watchdog, called Stalin's inclusion a "requiem for humanitarian education."

Nearly 4.5 million votes were cast in total. Oh, and if you're wondering, only those already deceased could be voted for, which is why there's no Putin, I assume.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Movie Rage" Results in Shooting

Talking, getting a cell phone call, and other disruptions are very annoying during a movie, which is one of the reasons I choose to wait for a movie to come to HBO or other premium channel. The theater experience isn't what it used to be. In Philadelphia a man decided to take matters into his own hands, using a gun to settle the dispute.

James Joseph Cialella Jr., 29, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons violations.

A father and son were talking during a Christmas showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. After asking them to be quiet, and even throwing popcorn at the young son, who refused to stay silent, Cialella pulled out a .380-caliber gun and shot the father in the left arm.

Strangely, Cialella didn't even bother leaving the theater. He sat back down in his seat and continued watching the movie, until the police arrived and took him into custody.

The unnamed shooting victim was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and is said to be recovering.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas: D.C. Cops

On Christmas day, four Washington, D.C. police officers were caught on tape stealing from Toys for Tots. I'm sure you've heard of Toys for Tots, which is a charity organization run by the U.S. Marines that collects toys for underprivileged children.

The four officers have been put on desk duty while internal affairs investigates the matter. At the same time, however, Yvonne Smith, the Washington, D.C. police department's outreach coordinator, pleaded with the media to focus on more positive stories.
The story of the four officers accused of taking the toys "starts off Christmas on a sour note, puts distance between the community and the police, and worst of all, tarnishes the image of the Department during a time when we are trying to build strong relationships to foster trust that ultimately helps us solve crimes.

Please don’t let the Christmas story of the day be about an investigation of officers who make up .001 percent of the department. Many many many more members made outstanding contributions during this holiday season to make a difference in the lives of families who are struggling."
Well, yeah, it looks like the department is tarnished, not by coverage, but by its actions.

And, a commenter on the story said:
"This has been going on for 2 years. My girlfriend had reported this type of incident when the officer's stole her children toys right in front of her. The truth will come out, so DC Government Officials "BEWARE"
Kind of discounts that ".001 percent" statement, but oh, well.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier vowed to see the officers "prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Friday, December 26, 2008

RNC Chair Candidate Defends "Barack the Magic Negro" CD

Tennessee Republican John "Chip" Saltsman, former manager for Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign and a candidate for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee (RNC), sent a CD of holiday music to RNC members earlier this month. But among the other already provacative songs was the tune "Barack the Magic Negro," a parody first aired in 2007 by talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

The 41-track CD by conservative satirist Paul Shanklin entitled "We Hate the USA," also included "Wright Place, Wrong Pastor," "Love Client #9," "The Star Spanglish Banner" and "John Edwards' Poverty Tour."

“I look forward to working together in the New Year,” Saltsman wrote in a note with the CD. “Please enjoy the enclosed CD by my friend Paul Shanklin of the Rush Limbaugh Show.”

“Paul Shanklin is a long-time friend, and I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for the Rush Limbaugh show are light-hearted political parodies,” Saltsman said to The Hill.


Here's the first stanza:
Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.
The L.A. Times, they called him that
'Cause he's not authentic like me.
I'm not going to list them all, because I find them offensive and racist in our supposedly enlightend times, but you can find them all here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Economy's Really Tough When Dogs Shoplift

The recession has hit all Americans hard, and apparently canine Americans as well. It's hard to believe, but a dog went into Smith's Food & Drug in Murray, Utah, headed right for the pet food aisle, and made a quick getaway with a rawhide bone.

It's only a $2.79 bone, so it's only petty theft, but still.

Employees were unable to ID the dog, as he was a new customer. Store manager Roger Adamson said:
"I've never seen him shop in here before; brand new customer, didn't even have his Fresh Value card."
Confronted by the manager, the K-9 crook still got away.

"I looked at him. I said 'Drop it!'" Adamson said. "He looked at me, and I looked at him, and he ran for the door and away he went, right out the front door."

Watch a video report with the surveillance video:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hedge Fund Manager Duped by Madoff Apparently Commits Suicide

The victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme now include a death. Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, a founder of the hedge fund Access International Advisors, which had invested with Madoff (pictured), was found dead on Tuesday in his Manhattan office.

Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, had reportedly invested $2.1 billion into Madoff's scheme. By reports, his fund lost as much as $1.4 billion.

According to AFP, Villehuchet "could not cope with the pressure following the outbreak of the scandal," the website of La Tribune daily quoted an associate as saying.

The New York Times said that authorities indicated that de la Villehuchet was found in his office, having apparently slit his wrists. However, although a box cutter and pills were found, no suicide note was found, according to Bloomberg.

This is the first Madoff linked suicide, and hopefully, the last.

Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet was married, without children. Bernie Madoff is currently under house arrest.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowzilla Attracts Heat, is No More

Snowzilla is now just a memory, and unlike Frosty, he won't be back. The humongous Alaskan snowman, first erected in 2005, has run afoul of the government (meaning city codes). Horrors: more Alaskan politicking.

The picture above is from 2005, when Snowzilla was first built by the Powers family, and was a mere baby.

Seriously, Snowzilla in 2005 was 16 feet tall. Since then the giant snowman has risen higher and higher. According to the AP, he was a favorite for camera crews from Russia (we know how close they are to Alaska, a stone's throw if you believe Sarah Palin).

But the crowds he attracted made him a non-favorite in the neighborhood. And thus, Anchorage city officials have deemed Snowzilla a public nuisance. According to the city, the two-story snowman increased traffic to the point of endangerment and the snowman itself was unsafe.

So Snowzilla is now just, well, snow. The Powers family said there are no plans to rebuild. In fact, under the city's nuisance abatement order, if they try, they could be arrested.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sales of "The Bush Shoe" Skyrocket After Near-Miss

Sales of a particular brand of shoe, the Ducati Model 271, have risen since the now world-famous shoe-throwing incident, in which reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi, 29, of Al-Baghdadia television, gave U.S. President George W. Bush a huge insult in the Arab culture: a close look at the soles of two of his shoes.

And those shoes were indeed the Ducati Model 271. Not only that, a designer, Ramazan Baydan, a shoemaker in Istanbul, has laid claim to the errant missiles.

Speaking of the Ducati Model 271, he said: “We have been producing that specific style, which I personally designed, for 10 years, so I couldn’t have missed it, no way. As a shoemaker, you understand."

The Ducati Model 271 is so famous that Baydan, who owns Baydan Ayakkabicilik San. & Tic., said they may rename them as "The Bush Shoe" or "Bye, Bye, Bush."

“We’ve been selling these shoes for years but, thanks to Bush, orders are flying in like crazy,” he said. “We’ve even hired an agency to look at television advertising.”

Baydan has received orders for 300,000 pairs of the shoes since the attack, which is more than four times the average annual sales of the shoe since its introduction in 1999. While normally sold markets including Iraq, Iran, Syria and Egypt, he indicated he has received an order for 4,000 pairs from a U.S. company.

While this appears to be great for Baydan, the shoe throwser, Al-Zaidi has apparently been beaten in custody, and intends to sue for damages, a report on Sunday indicated.

Report Clears Emanuel in Blagojevich Case: Stephanopolous

Much has been made over any possible involvement between Rod Blagojevich, the scandal-ridden governor of Illinois, accused of attempting to sell off Obama's Senate seat, and any contact his office may have had with Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Today on This Week with George Stephanopolous, it was revealed that Emanuel had only one courtesy phone call to Blagojevich.

Stephanopolous said his sources indicated that his sources indicate that the Obama team's review of contacts will show that Emanuel had only one conversation with Blagojevich, and that it was a courtesy call after being named as Obama's White House Chief of Staff.

At the same time, Stephanopolous said that while Rahm Emanuel spoke four times to Blagojevich's then-chief of staff John Harris (since resigned), he did push the pick of Valerie Jarrett. But when Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, "all we get is appreciation, right?" "Right," Emanuel responded.

We know that wasn't good enough for Blagojevich, right?

But also on This Week, it was pointed out by Cokie Roberts that it would have been "political malpractice" if someone from the Obama camp had "not talked to the governor" over a replacement candidate for Obama's seat.

Stephanopolous' bottom line:
Bottom line: these sources say that Obama's report, which is expected to be released this week, will confirm what Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and President-Elect Obama have said -- and what Governor Blagojevich clearly believed: that Obama officials were not open to any kind of deal for the Obama Senate seat.
Watch a video clip from Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopolous:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oxycontin was Sherry Johnston's Drug of Choice

I wrote about Bristol Palin's soon-to-be mother-in-law earlier. Sherry Johnston (pictured) was arrested on drug charges. More details have emerged about the arrest, including the fact that it was oxycontin, rather than the expected meth, that she was arrested for.

Why was meth anticipated by many? Well, after all, Wasilla is the meth capital of Alaska, according to state troopers.

Additionally, meth is notoriously easy to make. Oxycontin, on the other hand, is a synthetic form of morphine.

The 42-year-old Johnston has been charged with six felony drug counts. As you probably recall, her son, Levi Johnston, 18, is the father of Bristol Palin's child (Bristol's also 18). The two are supposed to be wed. And yes, Sarah Palin is Bristol's mother.

Sherry Johnston was released on $5,000 bond. No one else has been charged in the case, and there were no immediate plans to arraign her.

Right now, I'd expect Sarah Palin needs a good aspirin (though Sherry could probably supply some oxycontin, if she wanted).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bristol Palin's Mother-in-Law-To-Be Arrested on Drug Charges

Well, it seems as though the family of Levi Johnston, he who apparently impregnated Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin's daughter, has decided that Sarah Palin wasn't getting enough press. Sherry L. Johnston, 42, and the mother of Levi, was arrested Thursday at her home by Alaska State Troopers. She was charged with six felony counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Bristol took the headlines away from her mother during the 2008 Presidential campaign when it was revealed that she was pregnant, and Levi Johnston was the father. The family vowed to keep the child and that the two were to marry, but ... Bristol Palin's baby is supposedly due on Saturday, so what's the hold-up on the marriage?

When asked about the arrest, Gov. Palin's spokesman, Bill McAllister, said the following statement by e-mail:
"This is not a state government matter. Therefore the governor's communications staff will not be providing comment or scheduling interview opportunities."
Uh, huh.

The arrest was the result of an "undercover narcotics investigation," according to the police. Johnston was arrested at noon and released at 2 PM on $5,000 bond.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Star Trek Universe Loses an Icon: Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, wife of late "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, who had been in every segment of the series and movies, has died of leukemia at the age of 76. She had been diagnosed with the disease six months ago.

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry appeared as Nurse Chapel in Star Trek, was Deanna Troi's mother Lwaxana (pictured above) in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and was the voice of the computer in all the series, including Star Trek: Voyager. She also reprised the computer's voice in two episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise (nee Enterprise), and recently completed voice work for the upcoming Star Trek motion picture. She also did voiceover work for Star Trek: The Animated Series.

While she had other acting credits, including Leave It to Beaver and Bonanza, all that was dwarfed by her Star Trek work.

She married Gene Roddenberry, who passed away in 1991, in 1969. They had one child, Eugene Wesley "Rod" Roddenberry, Jr.

The family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to the CARE Organization or Precious Paws.

Adoph Hitler Gets His Cake, After All

I was wrong. Adolph Hitler Campbell managed to get his cake, and eat it, too. He didn't get it from ShopRite, the first store his father, Heath Campbell, attempted to get it from. No, he received his cake, emblazoned with "Happy Birthday, Adolph Hitler," from a retail giant, and one which should surprise no one: Wal-Mart.

After all, we know how much Wal-Mart values the dollar over ethics and morals.

The Campbells should be glad they live in America. In Germany, Nazi symbolism is forbidden under German law. I tend to think naming one's kids JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie (after Himmler) would be looked upon as such.

Don't think Wal-Mart hasn't received flak over this, however. A Wal-Mart spokesman told The Associated Press on Wednesday that in light of the incident, the company would review its guidelines regarding cake decorations and other requests. Ha!

"It's clear that in serving this customer, some people were offended," spokesman Greg Rossiter said. "As a result, we're going to review our policies."

No matter what Heath Campbell says about not being a racist, and about why he named his son Adolph Hitler ("no one else would have that name") it's clear from the swastikas in every room and the Nazi boots he wears, how he really feels.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Adolf Can't Get His Name on a Cake

I've often wondered if anyone would name their kid Adolf. And I've also wondered what someone with the surname Hitler would do. But in this case, someone actually made the choice to name their kid Adolf Hitler.

Heath Campbell and his wife, Deborah, are upset not only with the decision made by the nearby ShopRite, which refused to decorate a cake for them that said "Happy Birthday, Adolf Hitler" on their son Adolf Hitler Campbell's 3rd birthday, but with public reaction since the story broke.

Campbell complained, "Other kids get their cake. I get a hard time. It's not fair to my children. How can a name be offensive?"

How? Someone show him a history book. But why should anyone be surprised. The family has a swastika in every room, and Heath Campbell wears that formerly belonged to a Nazi soldier. And he claims a relative was once in the SS.

They say they're not racist, but they don't believe in intermingling of races. Oh, and their other two children are JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie (the second of the two is named for Heinrich Himmler).

Hopefully they realize, though undoubtedly not, what a hell their kid's life is going to be.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Letter to Santa Leads to Relative's Molestation Arrest

A 55-year-old Texas man was arrested after a 9-year-old relative wrote a letter to Santa Claus wishingthat the man stop molesting her and her sister.

The 9-year-old girl, whose relation to Andres Enrique Cantu, 55, was not disclosed in hopes of protecting her identity, wrote the letter and turned it in at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, where a counselor read and reported it to police, according to the McAllen Monitor.

It is unclear if the letter was an assignment or not.

Police believe Cantu had been molesting the girl for four years. He was arrested Friday and charged with continuous sexual abuse of a young child. If convicted, Cantu could face as much as 99 years in prison.

The charge is a new one, created by the Texas legislature last year as part of a series of changes to the penal code called Jessica's Law.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bush's "Shoe-Thrower" Labeled a Hero; Thousands Demand Release

Yesterday I wrote about George Bush's agility when confronted with a pair of size-10 shoes, hurled at him by Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt. It appears al-Zeidi is now a hero in Iraq.

Thousands took to the streets in Iraq, demanding his release. At the same time the official response of the Iraq government was to brand the act as "shameful."

Yesterday at Bush's surprise press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, al-Zeidi jumped up and announced "This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!" as he threw his first show, then added "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!" as he threw the second.

The sole of the shoe is considered a severe insult in Arab cultures.

The Iraq government demanded an apology from TV station, Al-Baghdadia, but instead the station issued a statement demanding Zaidi's release "in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people."

"Any measures against Muntazer will be considered the acts of a dictatorial regime," it added.

In Sadr City, thousands of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burned American flags and called for the release of al-Zeidi, chanting "Bush, Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head."

Additionally, in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, protesters threw their shoes at an American patrol as it passed. Fortunately for them they were soldiers and not Blackwater mercenaries; the soldiers did not respond and simply continued on their patrol.

Zeidi faces a minimum of two years in prison if he is prosecuted for insulting a visiting head of state, an Iraqi lawyer told AFP.

Watch an AP video report on the shoe-throwing incident; yesterday's report linked an NBC video.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bush Dodges Size-10 Missiles, Not Questions

What fun! As Bush's presidency winds down, it appears some have decided they'd better let him know just what they think of him before they lose their chance. In this case, with a pair of shoes.

At a news conference in Iraq today in which Bush emphasized progress in Iraq and that "there is still more work to be done," Bush managed to duck not questions, but two size-10 missiles.

Bush was not injured, but apparently White House Press Secretary Dana Perino received a black eye in the rush to grab the reporter.

"This is a farewell kiss, you dog!" shouted the man, later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.

The importance of the shoe? Apparently the sole of the shoe is considered an insult in Arab cultures.

"All I can report," Bush joked of the incident, "is a size 10."

Watch the video:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tara Reid Checks into Rehab

Tara Reid, one of the stars of the hit movie "American Pie," has checked herself into rehab, according to a publicist. Jack Ketsoyan said Friday that the actress went to the Promises Treatment Center.

He did not specify what she was being treated for or when she entered the facility.

Tara Reid's biggest claim to fame stems from a runway accident, not a movie or TV show.

The slip occurred on the runway at at P Diddy's birthday party in 2004. It revealed, for all the world to see, evidence of the breast enhancement surgery she had denied.

And, it took her so long to notice the faux pas, many thought she was drunk (click the above image to see an uncensored view).

Besides "American Pie," Reid has had a recurring role on "Scrubs" as well as appearing in the movie "Van Wilder" and "The Big Lebowski." Aside from that, she's also been nominated 3x for Razzie Awards (not something to brag about).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some Fire Sale: BlackBerrys, Full of McPalin Info Sold for $20 Each

Earlier this week the Washington Post wrote that the McCain - Palin campaign was having a fire sale on all sorts of equipment, from laptops to TVs to desks. Fox 5 in Washington, DC decided to check out the bargains, and snagged two Blackberrys for $20 each. No chargers, but a great price, and plenty of confidential info as well.

Not one, but both BlackBerrys have proven to be prime examples of what happens when equipment is sold without being properly wiped.

The first BlackBerry contained more than 50 private phone numbers for campaign leaders, politicians, lobbyists and journalists, as well as hundreds of emails from early September until a few days after election night.

The emails didn't have anything particularly sensitive, but the private phone numbers ... well, Fox 5 checked some of them.
"Somebody made a mistake," one owner told us. "People’s numbers and addresses were supposed to be erased."

"They should have wiped that stuff out," another said. But he added, "Given the way the campaign was run, this is not a surprise."
The second BlackBerry was even more of a treasure trove: photos from the GOP Convention (see the BlackBerry above, with just such a pic), a personal calendar for campaign events leading up to the campaign, and more than 260 contacts full of private email addresses, phone numbers and addresses for McCain supporters.

FOX 5 called former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore on his personal cell phone number, gleaned from the Blackberry. He said:
"It makes me quite uncomfortable. It’s a matter of principle. I gave that information to McCain headquarters and to have it sold is bothersome.

You don't know who got this information. There's possible harassment. And there's an enormous amount of campaign intelligence that shouldn't be sold for such a low-value."
Based on the fact that Fox 5 was 2-for-2 on this, it's very likely other people buying equipment from the McPalin fire sale received a wealth of unexpected information. While Fox 5 said they will not reveal any of the personal information they found, what about others?

While this is McCain - Palin data, it could just as easily happen to you, if you sell or donate used equipment of some sort. Cell phone, PCs, laptops, hard drives: you need to be sure you wipe them completely before disposing of them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Officials: Jesse Jackson Jr. Was "Candidate 5" in Blagojevich Case

Federal officials have announced that Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was "Candidate #5" in the Rod Blagojevich corruption case, in which the Illinois governor attempted to auction Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

"Candidate #5" (C5) was mentioned many times in the indictment. However, according to CNN TV, there is no evidence that any of the candidates listed in the document approached Gov. Blagojevich, in particular Jackson.

According to that same TV report, P. 72 of the complaint states that Blagojevich said that he felt he could strike a deal with C5 that provided Blagojevich with "something tangible up front."

They emphasized that there is no evidence Jackson was involved or even knew of any wrongdoing.

“It is impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any type of quid pro quo or any payments or offers. An impossibility to an absolute certainty,” Jackson said in comments broadcast by ABC.

Jackson met with Blagojevich on Monday but said it was the first time he and the governor had spoken in four years.

Jesse Jackson Jr. made a statement on Wednesday afternoon, in which he called for a Blagojevich to resign, and that a special election should be called.

In terms of the rumors, Jackson said, in part:

"I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics, and have no involvement whatsoever, in any wrongdoing. I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Gov. Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the Governor to make an offer, to plead my case, or to propose a deal about a U.S. senate seat, period."

He also emphasized that prosecutors have told him directly that he is not a focus of this investigation. He indicated he will cooperate fully with investigators. Jackson did not take any questions, upon advice of his legal counsel.

Watch the earlier ABC interview, broadcast Dec. 10th:


Palin Turkey Sells for Big Bucks on eBay

Remember the unfortunate turkey who had the bad luck --- or perhaps it was Sarah Palin's bad luck --- to be, oh, "worked on" behind Sarah Palin right after she pardoned a luckier fowl? Well, that particular turkey has sold for a pretty penny on eBay.

Yep, said turkey sold for $225 on eBay. Of course, it was a pretty risky bid; the seller had never sold anything at all, and I myself won't buy from unranked sellers. But anyway, according to the auction:
This is your opportunity to gobble up a slice of Alaskan history with the world renown turkey which was featured twenty feet behind Governor Sarah Palin as she pardoned one lucky turkey from Triple D Farm in Alaska. This is the official turkey from the video which comes with a letter of authenticity signed by the Farm's owner who is pictured below. No doubt, for the past few weeks, you have heard about this turkey over the national news, the internet and from stand up comedians.
At least, according to the auction, half the proceeds from the auction will be donated to their local Department of Veteran's Affairs in support of the troops.

Didn't see the earlier Palin video? Take a look:


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Bailout" is the 2008 Word of the Year

Here's something I totally missed. Last week Merriam-Webster announced the year's top ten words and definitions as indicated by hits from its Web site Merriam-Webster OnLine. Surprise, surprise: the top word is "bailout."

Bailout is defined by Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition as: "a rescue from financial distress."

Obviously, as we see many corporate bailouts, including bailouts for those who promptly turn around and party, you'd figure that many would want to know just exactly what it meant.

Oh, and bailout: that definition sure sounds like something Main Street could use.

Others in the top 10:
  1. vet
  2. socialism
  3. maverick
  4. bipartisan
  5. trepidation
  6. precipice
  7. rogue
  8. misogyny
  9. turmoil

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Union Workers Camp Out in Chicago Factory After Layoff

200+ employees of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago are camping out there, despite being laid off. They say they will not leave without assurance they will be paid the severance and vacation pay owed them.

Further, union officials said Republic failed to give the 60 days' notice required by federal law and that Bank of America, its major creditor, barred the company from paying for the 60-day period or for vacation time earned by employees.

Many have been saying the bailout of companies and financial institutions have been neglecting a key component: workers. And this seems to be yet another instance, particularly with Bank of America having received $25 billion from the government in the bailout.

While BofA is quite obviously not responsible for Republic's liabilities, all should be working toward forward-looking resolutions in cases of this nature.

"It's completely shameless that Bank of America took billions in taxpayer dollars and cuts off credit to a company we believe could have stayed in business," United Electrical Workers union official Leah Fried said.

Workers were angried still further when company officials failed to show up at a Friday meeting arranged by Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez Another meeting is scheduled for Monday.

Reports are that if negotiations with Bank of America fail to resolve the issue, there will be a picket of BoA’s Chicago headquarters at 231 S. La Salle on Tuesday, December 9 at 12 noon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"Sunny" von Bulow Dies After 28 Years in a Coma

Martha "Sunny" von Bulow died Saturday at the age of 77 in a New York nursing home. She spent the last 28 years of her life in a coma after what prosecutors alleged were two murder attempts by her husband, Claus.

The story of Claus and Sunny von Bulow was made into several movies and documentaries, including 1990's Reversal of Fortune, which starred Jeremy Irons as Claus and Glenn Close as Sunny.

Claus von Bulow was tried and convicted in 1982 of twice trying to kill Sunny by injecting her with insulin at their estate in Newport, R.I. That verdict was thrown out on appeal and in a second trial in 1985 Claus was acquitted.

After his acquittal, his main accusers, his wife's children by a previous marriage, Princess Annie Laurie von Auersperg Kniessl and Prince Alexander von Auersperg filed a wrongful death suit. At the same time his daughter Cosima was disinherited by her maternal grandmother, Annie Laurie (Crawford) Aitken.

In response to both of these, two years later, Claus von Bulow agreed to renounce any claims to his wife's estimated $75 million fortune and to the $120,000-a-year trust she set up for him. He also agreed to divorce her, leave the country and to never profit from their story. In exchange, besides the lawsuit being dropped, Cosima was reinstated as joint heiress to the Crawford fortune.

von Bulow, 82, now lives in London.

Sunny von Bulow was born Martha Sharp Crawford in Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, 1931, daughter of utilities tycoon George Crawford, who died when she was 4. She was nicknamed "Sunny" for her personality.

In 1957, she married Prince Alfred von Auersperg, an Austrian tennis instructor, on July 20, 1957. They had two children, Annie-Laurie (born 1958) and Alexander Georg (born 1959). They divorced in 1965.

On June 6, 1966, Sunny married Claus von Bulow, and they had a daughter, the aforementioned Cosima von Bulow, in 1967.

Couple Receives Ticket While Speeding to Delivery Room

What???? Every time you see such an incident on TV (granted, it's TV), the police officer escorts the couple in active labor to the hospital. In this case, he gave them a ticket.

Jennifer and John Davis were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic during the November 18 rush hour, on their way to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Contractions were just three minutes apart, so John started driving in the breakdown lane.

Two troopers allowed them to use the lane, but a third pulled them over and made them wait while he ticketed another driver. He then handed John an envelope and told him to expect something in the mail.

They received it, a $100 ticket.

Not only that, he acted as though he didn't believe them. Jennifer said:
"He came over and said 'What's under your jacket?' and so I said 'My belly.' And he waited and was just kind of looking at me, so I took that to assume he wanted me to open up my jacket. And I did."
Someone needs to get some sensitivity training. The couple plans to fight the ticket in court, as they should. I don't believe this is worth a lawsuit, but the officer should at least apologize to them.

Oh, and the baby, Charlotte Jane Davis, is just fine. Watch a video report.

Jennifer Aniston's 2009 Calendar Raises Eyebrows

I should say her upcoming 2009 desktop calendar raises eyebrows, and more, in fact. This one particular pose, under a waterfall, leaves virtually nothing to the imagination. The shot, from 2006, is from 2006, according to reports.

Click the above image to see the full, uncensored shot.
You can see a slideshow of the whole calendar here.

Aniston is ditching her girl-next-door image, it appears, and perhaps reminding Brad Pitt what he lost when he dumped . What do you readers think about Jen's new image?

Friday, December 5, 2008

O.J. Simpson Receives Justice, Some Would Say at Last

Many people believe that O.J. Simpson should have been in prison long ago. And on Friday, he was sentenced by Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass to a minimum of 7 1/2 years before he will be eligible for parole, with what appears to be a maximum sentence of 27 to 30 years, depending on analysts' estimates.

Jackie Glass is known as a tough sentencing judge, and she showed it on Friday.

O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in Los Angeles, was convicted Oct. 3, ironically on the 13th anniversary of his prior acquittal.

There were a total of 10 criminal charges he was sentenced for, including kidnapping and armed robbery, and he faced mandatory prison time — a minimum of six years and up to life. Prior to sentencing the recommendation from prosecutors was for an 18 year prison sentence.

Glass also denied a motion to allow Simpson to be released on bail while awaiting a possible appeal.

With an emotional voice, Simpson pleaded his own “case,” noting how he was trying to recover property, as the parents of Ron Goldman watched.

Some see this verdict as railroading Simpson, a form of retribution over his murder acquittal. Others see it as justice served.

In her statement, Glass called Simpson both “arrogant and ignorant.” She also surprisingly brought up the Nicole Brown Simpson / Ron Goldman case. She said that although many people may disagree with that verdict, she would not take it into account. However,

The sentence:

Count 1: Conspiracy to Commit a Crime: 1 year
Count 2: Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping: 12 – 48 months (concurrent)
Count 3: Conspiracy to Commit Robbery 12 – 48 months (concurrent)
Count 4: Burglary While in Possession of a Deadly Weapon 26 – 120 (concurrent)
Count 5: First degree Kidnapping with Use of a Deadly Weapon 15 years, parole eligibility after 5 years with a consecutive 12 - 72 (concurrent)
Count 6: First degree Kidnapping with Use of a Deadly Weapon 15 years, parole eligibility after 5 years with a consecutive 12 - 72 (concurrent)
Count 7: Robbery with Use of a Deadly Weapon 60 – 180 months, consecutive 12 – 72 (concurrent)
Count 8: Robbery with Use of a Deadly Weapon 60 – 180 months, consecutive 12 – 72 (concurrent)
Count 9: Assault with a Deadly Weapon 18 – 72 months (consecutive to count 8)
Count 10: Assault with a Deadly Weapon 18 – 72 months (consecutive to count 9)

Credit for time served of 64 days. In any case, O.J. Simpson will be in prison for a long time.

DHS to Get Its Own Reality Show

A new low for reality TV? Or a new high? The day-to-day activities, carefully picked for maximal entertainment of course, of Department of Homeland Security employees will be broadcast by ABC in a new reality series, the network announced Thursday.

The new series, "Homeland Security USA," will debut on Tuesday, January 6th at 8 PM. The first episode, "This is Your Car on Drugs," is described as follows in an ABC press release.
The premiere episode, "This is Your Car on Drugs," takes viewers inside some of the busiest international entry points to the U.S. At Los Angeles International Airport, a voluptuous 20-year-old woman arrives from Switzerland with no working papers but a suitcase full of titillating surprises! In the Pacific Northwest, at the Blaine, Washington border crossing, smugglers attempt to foil DHS canines by packing narcotics in baby diapers. Along the border between the U.S. and Mexico in the scorching heat of the desert outside of Tucson, Border Patrol agents race the clock to find six undocumented immigrants lost in the barren wilderness. In one of the most dramatic stories at the San Ysidro, California border crossing, a fake license plate tips a border officer off to a life-threatening situation. Meanwhile, there are some unusual illegal items intercepted at the International Mail Center in Carson, California, including a "delicacy" officers are shocked to discover is actually barbecued bats.
The network has filmed 13 one-hour episodes, the typical number for a mid-season replacement series. ABC also said the show was based on an Australian series (still can't create our own shows, eh?).

It's possible this will be somewhat humorous or even exciting, but I've gotten sick of so many reality shows replacing scripted drama and comedy on TV.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gunmen Shot at New Delhi Airport: Report

Six gunmen were shot and killed at the New Delhi airport after India put airports on high alert on Thursday. Several threats, including one purported to have been sent by Deccan Mujahideen had been made regarding India's airports. The Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last week.

The BBC made the report, citing airport officials. Details of the incident are sketchy.

Earlier in the day, Digvijay Singh, commandant, Central Industrial Security Force, in charge of security at the Bengaluru International Airport, said, "A red alert has been sounded. This is due to some intelligence inputs suggesting there will be attacks on the airport. One such is an e-mail from Deccan Mujahideen."

Moushumi Chakravarty, an information officer at the Indian ministry of Civil Aviation said, "Security has been heightened on basis of intelligence inputs. Passengers have been asked to arrive three hours before their flights. There is more detailed checking..."

As these threats and incidents continued, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice increased pressure on Pakistan to act against the suspects in last week’s attacks in Mumbai.

Update: Reports are now that this was a false alarm. Just what we need.

Family of Trampled Wal-Mart Worker Sues

The family of Jdimytai Damour, 34, a temporary worker at Wal-Mart who was sued in a crush of frenzied shoppers on Black Friday, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both Wal-Mart and the Valley Stream mall where the store is located.

According to the lawsuit, Damour's death was caused by "the carelessness, reckless negligence, wanton disregard for public safety and gross negligence" in the "staging, conducting and advertising for sales events." The lawsuit was filed in the Bronx Supreme Court.

At the same time, the family announced that it plans to sue both Nassau County, on Long Island, and its police department.

At the time of the incident, New York State’s largest grocery union, Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, called the death of Damour “avoidable.” Bruce Both, the union president:
“Where were the safety barriers? Where was security? How did store management not see dangerous numbers of customers barreling down on the store in such an unsafe manner? This is not just tragic; it rises to a level of blatant irresponsibility by Wal-Mart.”
Police continue to search for shoppers involved in the trampling death by using security footage, but the odds are not good. Neither Wal-Mart nor the mall responded to questions for comment.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

CFO of Christian University Arrested in Gay Sex Sting

Shades of Ted Haggard and Larry Craig. You know, men who rail against homosexuality but apparently have a "wide stance" in a restroom stall. The CFO of Cincinnati Christian University was arrested in a sex sting last Saturday.

According to the report, Robert Williams, 52,
was arrested Robert and charged him with sexual imposition for allegedly grabbing an undercover officer in a sexual manner.

According to their site, CCU "builds Christian leaders, one person at a time." Uh, huh.

In a written statement, University President David Faust said:
"We are shocked and dismayed by the news of Robert Williams' arrest. This is a personal tragedy for him and for his family and we lift them up in our prayers. Mr. Williams is being placed on administrative leave from his job at CCU while we learn and assess the facts of the case."
I wouldn't expect him to get his job back, ever.

The sting was conducted at Mount Airy Forest, a park that police say has a problem with men soliciting other men for sex. They conduct regular stings there. Two other men were arrested on the same morning as Williams.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Impeachment Group Seeks Donations to Air Bush Impeachment Ad

The National Impeachment Network has created an ad that seeks to prod the Legislature to impeach President George W. Bush. It's asking for donations to enable them to air the ad in various markets around the country.

The National Impeachment Network is supported by grassroots groups such as Code Pink, Veterans for Peace and Republicans for Impeachment and is headed by Ralph Lopez of Daily Kos.

The post reads:
A version of this ad has already run in Vermont on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN Headlines, and other stations. We are going over the heads of congressmen and appealing directly to their constituents in order to generate pressure for impeachment. Impeachment can be accomplished in three days with single article like refusing to obey congressional subpoenas. In an up-or-down vote before the entire Congress, even Republicans who are not part of the rabid right will start hearing from their constituents to impeach. Bush has no friends left, and he shouldn’t. They can do it. And the future of democracy will be that much more secure, with his unprecedented law-breaking firmly punished. Email: ralphlopez AT hotmail DOT com if you would like an ad made to target your own congressmember. You can run this ad in your town many times for as little as $1000.
The ad opens with clips of Bush speaking at annual Correspondent's Club dinner, joking about not being able to find WMDs. It also features images of flag-draped caskets and grieving military families. It also features a clip of author and former Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County Vincent Bugliosi's congressional testimony about the lack of WMDs, in which he said:
"How dare they do what they did, how dare they?"
The ad also asks viewers to contact legislators. Watch the ad yourself:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Plaxico Burress Turns Himself In

One might think shooting yourself in the leg is enough punishment, but not so. On Monday, NY Giants WR Plaxico Burress turned himself in to police. He is expected to be charged with criminal possession of a handgun after accidentally shooting himself in the right thigh at a Manhattan nightclub. He is expected to plead not guilty.

Burress does not have a permit to carry a handgun, according to police.

According to NY state law, a person carrying a gun without a permit faces 3 1/2 to 15 years in prison if prosecutors can prove that the person intended to use the weapon on another. That's probably unlikely in this case, but the person can still face felony charges with up to seven years in prison.

However, Burress, as an NFL player, will probably get off far easier than John or Jane Q. Public. That doesn't mean he won't feel the wrath of the NFL, though. The league’s personal-conduct policy can suspend a player for violations of local gun laws.

Will they, though? Burress is a star, making the winning TD catch in this year's Super Bowl. Since signing a five-year, $35 million contract this year, he has had a troubled season.

He has already been suspended for 12 days this season, due to missing team meetings without explanation, and was fined by the league for criticizing officials in another game.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said:
"This is a law enforcement matter and we are continuing to cooperate fully with the police. In addition, it will be reviewed under our league policies."
The last really big case involving an NFL football star was the Michael Vick dog fighting case. There, he receieved a stern sentence, though once again perhaps easier than a normal citizen might. But in that case, many citizens turned on Vick, showing the love (perhaps more than for a person) that many in America have.