Saturday, January 31, 2009

George Obama Arrested in Kenya for Marijuana Possession, Resisting Arrest

George Obama, the half brother of U.S. President Barack Obama has been arrested for possession of marijuana. He is being held at Huruma police post in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

The officer in charge, Inspector Augustine Mutembei said Obama was arrested on charges of possession of marijuana as well as resisting arrest. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday.

In Kenya, marijuana is known as bhang.

According to CNN, George Obama denied the charges.
"They took me from my home, I don't know why they are charging me."
George Obama was relatively unknown until right-wing blogs tried to use a Vanity Fair article which implied he was living in a shack against Barack Obama. George Obama bristled at the reports;
"I was brought up well. I live well even now. The magazines, they have exaggerated everything. I think I kind of like it here. There are some challenges, but maybe it is just like where you come from, there are the same challenges."
George Obama was one of the president's few close relatives who did not go to the inauguration in Washington last week. George was the last of Barack Obama Sr.'s children, and his father died in an auto accident when George was only six months old. The two half-brothers barely know each other.

Friday, January 30, 2009

McCaskill Pushes for Salary Cap for Bailout Recipients

One day after President Barack Obama tore into Wall Street for its "shameful" $18 billion in 2008 bonuses, the Senate chimed in with a "salary cap" bill, aimed at limiting compensation for those companies accepting government bailout money.

The bill, the Chief Executive Officer Pay Act of 2009, introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D-MO), no employee of one of those companies would be allowed to make more than the president of the United States. That would place a cap on salaries of $400,000.

On the floor of the Senate, McCaskill said:
"We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer. They don't get it. These people are idiots. You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses."
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended corporate bonuses Friday, saying that cutting them will result in job cuts. On CNN's American Morning, he said:
"If you somehow take that bonus out of the economy, it really will create unemployment. It means less spending in restaurants, less spending in department stores, so everything has an impact."
What Giuliani fails to get is that those bonuses go to very few people, so they really do little to stimulate the economy.

McCaskill added:
"Going forward, you want taxpayers to help you survive, you want the people at your financial institution to have a job tomorrow, then you're going to have to limit everyone's pay at your company to the same salary that the president of the United States makes. Is that so unreasonable? It's 8 times the median household income in the United States of America, $400,000 a year. I don't think that sounds like a bad deal. Should these people be making more than the President of the United States? Now really, should they? They should not be making more than the President of the United States.

"So every executive, going forward, cannot make more than $400,000 a year. And they'd have to limit that executive compensation for everyone in their company until they pay back every dime to the taxpayers.

"Now once they're off the public dole, once the taxpayers aren't footing the bill, then it's not as much our business what they get paid. But right now they're on the hook to us. And they owe us something other than a fancy waste basket and $50 million jet. They owe us some common sense. And if any of them think it's a hardship to take the salary of the President of the United States, I dare them to say it out loud right now."
I personally see nothing wrong with this, as a taxpayer. We're footing the bill for them, and receiving no equity in their companies, after all.

Watch a video of McCaskill on the floor of the Senate:

video

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blackwater to Be Forced Out of Iraq

Blackwater Worldwide, the oft-criticized security contractor that some have labeled mercenaries, will no longer be allowed to work in the Iraq, according to Iraqi officials.

The announcement was made Thursday. Blackwater provides the majority of protection for U.S. government officials in Iraq, but has been criticized for "cowboy" tactics in the country, leading to what many have said are unprovoked, uncontrolled and uncalled-for killings of innocents.

The most visible example of such action was the September 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square. On Jan 6th, five former Blackwater guards pleaded not guilty in Washington, D.C. federal court to manslaughter and gun charges in that incident.

Blackwater has been operating without an Iraqi government license. It had recently applied for one, but the request was turned down during the past few weeks by the Iraqi government, officials said.

"They presented their request, and we rejected it," said Ala’a Al-Taia, an official with Iraq’s Interior Ministry. "There are many marks against this company, specifically that they have a bad history and have been involved in the killing of so many civilians."

Iraqi officials said Blackwater must leave the country as soon as a joint Iraqi-U.S. committee finishes drawing up guidelines for private contractors under the new security agreement.

"When the work of this committee ends," Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said, private security companies "will be under the authority of the Iraqi government, and those companies that don't have licenses, such as Blackwater, should leave Iraq immediately."

The State Department issued a statement saying that Iraqi law will be obeyed, meaning Blackwater will be forced to leave. At the same time, a Blackwater spokesperson said they have not yet been informed of the decision directly.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FDA Recalls Peanut Corporation's Products All the Way Back to 2007

The peanut butter recall has just gotten worse, without Peanut Corporation of America, the manufacturer at the center of the outbreak, doing a thing. The FDA, however, has expanded the recall of the company's products all the way back to 2007.

The expansion comes as revelations about as many as a dozen incidences of past salmonella detection at the plant have arisen, as well as evidence of roaches, mold, and signs of a leaking roof which federal inspectors uncovered at the Peanut Corp. Georgia plant.

A report (.PDF) indicates that Peanut Corp. kept shipping peanut butter even after it was found to contain salmonella, by retesting the product, and then shipping it after it "cleared."

Production lines were never cleaned up after internal tests indicated contamination, either.

The New York Times cited a food safety expert who said that it is illegal for a company to continue testing a product until it gets a clean test.

More than 500 people have gotten been sickened in the continuing salmonella outbreak, which has been linked to at least eight deaths. More than 400 products containing peanut butter or peanut paste have been recalled so far. They include cookies, crackers, and even dog biscuits.

It should be noted that peanut butter in its native form, as opposed to being included in other food products, has not been affected.

PETA's Hot Super Bowl Ad Gets Banned by NBC

I suppose NBC is looking to avoid any Janet Jackson-ish Super Bowl surprises, but in all honestly: this is a PETA commercial you're banning, NBC, not a Super Bowl gig. NBC has decided to pull the ad because they feel it is just a little too sexy for television.

The PETA commercial in question in question shows lingerie-clad models having, er, fun with a variety of veggies. And no, we're not talking about anything all that racy.

Yes, there is some oil involved (unsure if it's warm or not) and a hot tub as well (which much have been fun to clean up after dumping vegetables in it). But realistically, there's probably hotter action on cable networks.

The PETA commercial implores viewers to "Go Veg!" and tells them that "Studies Show Vegetarians Have Better Sex." Whether or not that's true, I wouldn't mind being that pumpkin above.

Seriously, however, is this all that racy? A PETA rep told the New York Post:
"PETA's veggie ads are locked out, while ads for fried chicken and burgers are allowed, even though these foods make Americans fat, sick and boring in bed."
Readers? Watch the ad below.


Man Pleads Guilty in Election Night Racist Rampage

Brian Carranza, 21, pleaded guilty in the case of a Staten Island rampage that targeted black people November 4th of last year in the wake of Barack Obama's election victory.

He faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiring to assault Staten Island residents. Carranza is white, and he and his two friends, another white man and a Hispanic man, have been accused of beating a Liberian immigrant teen (while shouting "Obama!"), pushing a black man to the ground and driving their car over a white man they thought was black. The last, Ronald Forte, 38, was in a coma for several days but survived.

Carranza is due to be sentenced on April 30th. He has been released on bail, but is under home confinement with a monitor.

The two other suspects, Ralph Nicoletti and Michael Contreras, both 18, remain free on bail after pleading not guilty.

A fourth person, Bryan Garaventa, 18, pleaded guilty earlier this month and is cooperating with authorities.

Invasion of African Armyworms Threatens Liberia

Many have heard of army ants, but perhaps not armyworms. But much like the military might of an army, a host of crop-destroying armyworms has invaded Liberia.

Armyworms are, in fact, not worms, but caterpillers. They are the larvae of of nocturnal moths, of the species Spodoptera exempta. Their name comes from their "habit" of crawling en masse into fields of crops.

Besides being known as the African armyworm, it's also known as the okalombo or Kommandowurm or nutgrass armyworm.

The African armyworm larvae feed on grasses, early stages of cereal crops , sugar cane, and occasionally on coconut. During the rainy seasons, the adult moths spread and begin laying eggs in grasses and food crops. Each female lays between 500 and 1,000 eggs in her 10-day adulthood.

Currently, the situation in Liberia is so bad that the country has declared a state of emergency to deal with the invasion. The plague has affected 300,000 rural residents in central and northwestern parts of the country thus far.

Winfred Hammond, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told CNN that the infestation started sometime during the week of January 12 but spread quickly, to 50 villages in just a week. He added:
"The plague is being described as Liberia's worst in 30 years. The last African armyworm outbreak in the sub-region occurred in Ghana in 2006."
The weapon of choice against these pests would, unfortunately, be pesticides. A different approach, a biological one using a naturally occurring virus fatal to armyworms (NPV) is also being investigated in various countries, including the UK, Canada and Tanzania, but that is a long-term approach and will not help in this case.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rod Blagojevich Says He Considered Oprah for Obama's Senate Seat

Rod Blagojevich, who has been impeached by the Illinois House, and who has been charged with trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, is making the talk show rounds today, and on "Good Morning, America," he stated that he considered Oprah Winfrey to replace Barack Obama.

Yes, Rod Blagojevich is appearing on talk shows rather than attending his own Illinois Senate impeachment hearings, which start today. Under the Illinois Constitution, while the House can vote to impeach an executive or judicial officer, it is the Senate that conducts the trial. A 2/3 majority in the Senate is required to convict.

On "Good Morning, America," Blagojevich said the following:
"She (Oprah Winfrey) seemed to be someone who had helped Barack Obama in a significant way become president. She was obviously someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators."
The revelation just makes the Blagojevich scandal even stranger. There is taped evidence of him speaking of selling the seat, yet he continues to assert his innocence.

Today's talk show rounds include the aforementioned GMA, The View, The Today Show and Larry King Live.

Greenwich Village Bakery "Celebrates" Inauguration with "Drunken Negro Head Cookies"

Lafayette French Pastry, a Greenwich Village bakery popularized by the TV show "Sex and the City," has come under fire for "celebrating" Barack Obama's inauguration with what they called "Drunken Negro Head Cookies."

The "Drunken Negro Head Cookies" (AKA "Drunken Negro Face Cookies"), pictured above, are obviously offensive and racist. The proprietor of the store, feigning innocence, is said to have told a patron:
"Would you like some drunken negro heads to go with your coffee? They're in honor of our new president. He's following in the same path of Abraham Lincoln; he will get his."

Later, her friend stopped by the bakery and said Kefalinos corrected her about the name of the cookies—they're actually drunken "N-word" cookies. She says the backwards baker then repeated the dark suggestion that, like Lincoln, President Obama "will get what's coming to him." Go Secret Service, go!
No matter what you may think of the policies of the new President, what sort of message does this send to the country? Let's not forget that speaking in this manner could get you a visit from the Secret Service, but even without that, is that what conservatives want? Murder?

Let's not forget what John McCain said in his concession speech:
I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Do "Drunken Negro Head Cookies" signal a coming together to you?

Watch a video report below.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Video Shows BART Passenger Assaulted Prior to Fatal Shooting

Hopefully, I don't need to tell you about the Oscar Grant case. Oscar Grant was an unarmed BART passenger who was shot by a BART police officer on New Year's Day. A new video has emerged showing that moments before he was killed, Grant was punched in the face, but not by Johannes Mehserle, the BART officer who shot him.

I'm not going to judge any of the police actions (and make no mistake, BART police are police, not security) here; it should be noted that they were originally called over a disturbance on BART. It should also be noted that while Mehserle has been charged with murder, it's been theorized that he had been trying to use his Taser on Grant, and mistakenly pulled his gun. BART police had apparently only been issued Tasers within a few weeks of the incident.

If that were truly the case, Mehserle could only be charged with manslaughter, based on the definition of murder.

And in any case, the shooting of Oscar Grant does not give citizens the right to riot and destroy property, as SF Bay Area protesters have done in this case.

The officer shown punching Grant in the face is the same officer who investigators say had his knee on Grant's neck when the 22-year-old was shot. No BART officers have been charged aside from Mehserle.

KTVU, a local TV station, said they had exclusive video of the new footage. They took the video to UC Hastings and Golden Gate law professor Peter Keane who said the following:
That officer is committing a crime. That's a pretty brutal punch. It just knocks his head back and sends him to the ground.

If the district attorney is saying he's not going to charge any officer except Mehserle in my opinion, he's not doing his job.
U.C. Berkeley law school professor Franklin Zimring, also showed the video, said:
Police officers are not by virtue of their legal status, immunized from the normal laws that govern when assault is criminal conduct.
Watch the video, first broadcast on KTVU on January 25, 2009, obtained via Raw Replay.

video

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Fell Former Miss World Brazil

Brazilian model and former Miss World Brazil Mariana Bridi da Costa has died, losing her battle with septicemia caused by drug-resistant bacteria. She was 20.

Mariana Bridi da Costa was first diagnosed with kidney stones in December. However, she did not improve, and later tests showed a urinary tract infection (UTI). Unfortunately, the infection became generalized and led to septicemia.

Doctors eventually removed both her kidneys, part of her stomach, and amputated both her hands and both her feet in an effort to save her. One has to wonder if she was misdiagnosed at first or if the kidney stones led to the UTI. The story of a Brazilian model who dies at 20 is sad enough, but one has to wonder about the speed of her death as well.

Her boyfriend Thiago Simoes said Mariana fell ill on December 30, but was initially misdiagnosed with kidney stones.

Despite this, however, it may be something that was unavoidable. The bacteria in question, according to the doctors, was pseudomonas aeruginosa, known to be resistant to multiple kinds of antibiotics.

And therein lies the SNAFU. Antibiotics are a great boon, but through overuse, we've managed to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria which requires, sometimes, drugs that are so toxic in themselves that the side-effects are nearly as harmful as the infection.

It's sad when anyone dies, but the Brazilian model had just started to get multiple offers and seemed to be on the fast track to joining fellow Brazilian Giselle Bundchen on world fashion runways.

We have some pictures of Mariana Bridi da Costa attached to this post. Our hearts and prayers go to her family and loved ones.

Watch a tribute video posted to YouTube below:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Malia, Sasha Dolls Unveiled by Beanie Babies Creator

Ty Inc., the creator of Beanie Babies, has unveiled a new pair of dolls in its TyGirlz line. Because the names are beautiful, and for no other reason, Ty has named the dolls "Malia" and "Sasha." Right. I have a bridge to sell you.

After all, the dolls, which sell for $9.99, are named "Marvelous Malia" and "Sweet Sasha," totally different, right?

Tania Lundeen, Ty senior vice president of sales told AP:
"There's nothing on the dolls that refers to the Obama girls. It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls. They are not."
Of course not. And the fact that the TyGirlz collection also includes dolls named Hannah, Serena, Lindsay, Britney, Paris, and Hillary is strictly a coincidence.

Now, celebrities have a right to control how their images are used, but it's frequently a tough fight.

Unlike the other celebrities who seem to be implied as models for other TyGirlz dolls, Malia (10) and Sasha (7) are very young, however, and one expert, Christina Vercelletto, senior editor of Parenting magazine, said it would be inappropriate to use them as models for the dolls:
"We need to remember they are still children themselves. To kind of mass-market them as stars and turn them into dolls who are a little more mature than they are? The message: Girls should look older than they do."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Citing an Abundance of Caution, Obama Retakes the Oath

Anyone watching yesterday's Presidential inauguration saw the error that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made while issuing the oath of office. Make no mistake, it was Roberts' mistake, but to play is safe, and using the term "an abundance of caution," the Obama administration had Roberts re-issue the oath of office.

It should be noted that according to NPR, Roberts first laughed off the request. But Obama persisted, and the oath was re-issued, in front of reporters.

The president retook the oath in the Map Room of the White House one day after his inauguration at the US Capitol.

"Are you ready to take the oath?" Roberts asked him.

"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," Obama said.

White House Counsel Greg Craig said:

"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday. But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time."

As specified in the United States Constitution, the word "faithfully" precedes the phrase "execute the office," but Roberts read that part of the oath incorrectly.

Oath or no, the 20th amendment of the US Consitution, which provides that the president and vice president's term begins at noon on January 20th. In fact, Obama was president before yesterday's flubbed oath.

Clinically Depressed Dog Attacks Former French President Jacques Chirac

Wait, wait, before we make fun of this, it should be noted that there are dogs that are treated for various psychiatric ailments with drugs. For example, separation anxiety disorder (where your dog goes nuts and destroys your house when you leave) is really a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder and is treated with the same types of drugs a human would be treated with ... an SSRI.

That said, this is still hilarious.

76-year-old former French president Jacques Chirac was rushed to hospital after being mauled by his own, as his wife called it, "clinically depressed" pet Maltese.

Mrs. Chirac said:
"The dog went for him for no apparent reason. We were already aware the animal was unpredictable and is actually being treated with pills for depression. My husband was bitten quite badly, but he is certain to make a full recovery over the coming weeks."
The dog's name is Sumo. Shoot, what do you expect when you give it the name of a Japanese type of wrestling?

Peanut Butter Recall Extended to Pet Food

Much as with the pet food incident of 2007, when tainted products from China were killing our beloved companions, the peanut butter recall of 2009 has reached pet food.

The peanut butter recall in the U.S. started with peanut butter and peanut paste produced by produced at a Blakely, Ga., facility owned by Peanut Corp. of America. These products are used by manufacturers to produce cookies, crackers, and apparently dog biscuits.

Plain old peanut butter, not included in other items such as the above, appears to be safe.

The pet food recall centers around peanut butter-flavored dog biscuits sold by PetSmart. These biscuits are store brands, and they contain peanut paste from the aforementioned Peanut Corp. of America.

The pet food recall includes the following Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits, sold between August 21, 2008 and January 19, 2009:
  • Small Assorted 32 oz., UPC 73725702900
  • Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb., UPC 73725700601
  • Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700605
  • Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb., UPC 73725702755
  • Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700638
  • Extra Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700779
  • Peanut Butter 4 lb., UPC 73725700766
PetSmart said isn't aware of any cases of pets becoming ill from the products but has removed them from its store shelves and website and is conducting the recall as a precaution.

While no other firm has seen fit to perform a pet food recall, it might be a good idea to consult with your pet store or veterinarian if you have any other peanut butter-flavored dog biscuits.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack H. Obama Intro'ed at Inauguration, as Announcer Avoids His Middle Name

Despite the fact that the election was over months ago, people continue to use Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein, as an issue. For example, in her newest book, Guilty, Ann Coulter repeated refers to Barack Obama as B. Hussein Obama. It was thus interesting to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama today, and see the announcer refer to him as Barack H. Obama.

In fact, in general, the announcer gave the full name of each dignitary he introduced. For example, they used the name "George Walker Bush" when introducing George Bush, the outgoing president.

It's somewhat sad to see that people continue to attribute either character, honesty or perhaps even morality to a person based on their name. His middle name is Hussein in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a secular resident of Nairobi. He neither changed his name to embrace the Muslim religion (e.g, Muhammad Ali), nor is he himself Muslim.

Despite this, it should be noted that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had no compunction about using Obama's middle name when swearing Obama in.

But in point of fact, I continue to hear, echoing in my head, the excellent oration made by Colin Powell when he endorsed Barack Obama on Meet the Press (emphasis mine):
I'm also troubled by - not what Senator McCain says - but what members of the Party say, and it is permitted to be said: such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is he is not a Muslim. He's a Christian; has always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, "What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" The answer's "No, that's not America." Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be President? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own Party drop the suggestion he's Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery. And she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards - Purple Heart, Bronze Star; showed that he died in Iraq; gave his date of birth, date of death. He was twenty years old. And then at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross. It didn't have a Star of David. It had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Karim Rashad Sultan Kahn. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey, he was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11 and he waited until he could go serve his country and he gave his life.

Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as non-discriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that within the Party we have these kinds of expressions.
As Barack Obama's presidency unfolds, let's hope people can move past petty arguments based on name or religion, or whatever, and move to substantive arguments based on content and reality.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Did Hillary Clinton Get Sloppy Seconds? Jill Biden Says: Yes

Jill Biden, before her husband Joe Biden is even sworn in as the new Vice-President of the United States, perhaps made the first faux pas of the Obama administration. On Oprah Winfrey's show on Monday, she let it slip that her husband, Joe Biden, was offered his choice of either VP or Secretary of State by Barack Obama.

You might recall a certain presidential primary rival of Obama's is his choice for Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton.

The Bidens were making a surprise appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show, recorded at the Kennedy Center for broadcast later Monday on the eve of the inauguration.

The Associated Press reports that "the vice president-elect tried to hush his wife as soon as the words came out of her mouth, with a loud 'shhh!'"

She went on to say:
"If you're secretary of state, you'll be away, we'll never see you, you know. I'll see you at a state dinner once in awhile. But I said, if you are vice president, the entire family, because they worked so hard for the election, they can be involved. They can come to our home. They can go to events, they can be with us all the time. And that's what's important to us."
Later in the afternoon, however, Elizabeth Alexander, Joe Biden's spokeswoman, issued this statement:
"Like anyone who followed the presidential campaign this summer, Dr. Jill Biden knew there was a chance that President-elect Obama might ask her husband to serve in some capacity and that, given his background, the positions of vice president and secretary of State were possibilities. Dr. Biden's point to Oprah today was that being vice president would be a better fit for their family because they would get to see him more and get to participate in serving more. To be clear, President-elect Obama offered Vice President-elect Biden one job only -- to be his running mate. And the vice president-elect was thrilled to accept the offer."
Watch the oops:

video

Bush Shoe-Thrower Seeks Asylum in Switzerland

Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve has reported that Muntadar al-Zaidi, who has been in custody in Iraq after hurling shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush during a mid-December press conference, has asked for asylum in Switzerland.

In the Arab culture, the sole of a shoe is the ultimate insult; it is considered rude even to show the sole of your shoe to another, let alone throw it at them.

The report (translated here) quotes his lawyer, Mauro Poggia as saying al-Zaidi fears for his safety in his Baghdad prison. He added:
"My client needs to make his request at the Swiss embassy in Baghdad when he is released. But we don't know when he will be able to do that because he still hasn't gone to trial."
Even if al-Zahid is released, he faces the inability to get a job, and possible other repercussions. Despite this, he has, however, been hailed as a hero by many. That still does not give him much comfort.

Poggia said:
"Even if many Iraqis support his act, he is at the mercy of all kinds of extremists ... His life could become hell in his own country."
Meanwhile, in Switzerland, "this single man who has no children may very well work as a journalist at the United Nations," Poggia told the Tribune de Geneve.

For those who may have missed the shoe-throwing incident, here it is:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Coast Guard Releases "Miracle Crash" Video

Not really a typical story for this blog, although one has to admit the craziness of the apparent bird strike makes it so. However, it's hard to discount the near-miraculous nature of the Hudson River landing of flight 1549 and the Airbus A320.

The Coast Guard has released surveillance camera footage of the crash. It is simply amazing. Watch the video below from CNN (CNN embedded video doesn't play well in Firefox on Blogger), as well as other video from YouTube.

video

Saturday, January 17, 2009

FDA: Avoid All Peanut Butter-Based Products

It appears a voluntary recall of Kellogg's peanut butter crackers is not enough, nor is the recall of 21 lots of peanut butter over possible salmonella contamination. The FDA has now told consumers to avoid all foods containing peanut butter, for now.

Shades of last year's e. coli scare, when people were cautioned away from foods like pre-made salads and tomatoes.

To be clear, the FDA says that peanut butter itself is OK; they are concerned with foods containing peanut paste, as well as peanut butter, produced at a Blakely, Ga., facility owned by Peanut Corp. of America, which issued the recall above.

Specifically, consumers need to avoid cookies, crackers, ice cream, and the like; anything made with peanut butter.

So far, more than 470 people in 43 states have gotten ill, and at least 90 had to be hospitalized. At least six deaths are being attributed to the outbreak.

Stephen Sundlof, head of the FDA's food safety center. said:
"We urge consumers to postpone eating any products that may contain peanut butter until additional information becomes available. As of now, there is no indication that the major national name-brand jars of peanut butter sold in retails stores are linked to the recall."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Katia Verber: a Russian Paris Hilton Wanna-Be?

Photo via Marie Claire.

Katia Verber has been called the Paris Hilton of Russia by Marie Claire. It's hard to say which of those two would be more insulted by that comparison.

But realistically, when looking at pictures of Katia Verber, what stands out is her spoiled look. Seriously, she looks spoiled. She looks like everyone else needs to be looked at with disdain.

Katia is 24, and is described as follows by Marie Claire:
Katia, a dark-haired heiress with piercing eyes and perfect teeth, is like one of the Hilton sisters here. She's the daughter of Alla Verber, who helps run Russia's biggest luxury retailer, Mercury, which brought Dolce, Gucci, and Prada to Russia in the mid-1990s. Katia works as a buyer at Mercury, but she spends much of her time posing for Russian glossies and deciding which party invitations to accept.
It's true that she's rich, but despite the fact that many say Paris Hilton inherited her money (it's true) she has done some work in her time (though not that much), Katia doesn't do all that much. Buyer for her mother's firm? Certainly isn't making her share of the wealth there.

Photo via Marie Claire.

Unless, as is likely the case, she gets a salary that's really more of an allowance than anything else.

The Paris Hilton of Russia? You decide.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

U.S. Airways Crash Due to "Double Bird Strike"

It's happened before, and it will happen again: the U.S. Airways flight earlier today which crash-landed in the Hudson River was the result of a bird strike.

In fact, according to an air controllers union spokesman said, the Airbus A320 experienced not one, but two bird strikes.

The Federal Aviation Administration said that all passengers on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 were off the plane and safe.

New York Gov. David Paterson said in a news conference Thursday evening, "We've had the miracle on 34th Street for some time and now I believe we've had a miracle on the Hudson."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "We do not believe there are any serious injuries. The pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and getting the passengers out."

Air Traffic Controllers Union spokesman Doug Church said the pilot noted a "double bird strike," apparently meaning that birds had hit both of the plane's jet engines. After reporting the bird strike, the pilot asked to return to the ground immediately.

According to the FAA, bird strikes cost US aviation $600 million annually and has resulted in over 200 worldwide deaths since 1988.

In fact, the first bird strike was reported by Orville Wright in 1905.

Salmonella Risk Prompts Huge Kellogg's Peanut Butter Cracker Recall

Last year: e. coli. This year: salmonella. Kellogg's has issued a huge peanut butter cracker recall after one of its suppliers, Lynchburg-based Peanut Corp. of America issued a recall for 21 lots of peanut butter over possible salmonella contamination.

The peanut butter cracker recall involves both Austin and Keebler brands.

It should be noted, however, that despite this nationwide (yes, nationwide) recall of peanut butter crackers, it is strictly precautionary. There have been no reports of illness related to either Austin or Keebler crackers.

There are specific details in a press release at the Kellogg's website. Regarding the peanut butter cracker recall, the company said:
Kellogg Company today announced it has taken the precautionary measure of putting a hold on Austin and Keebler branded Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers.

FDA and other regulatory agencies have indicated that Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) is the focus of their investigation concerning a recent Salmonella outbreak thought to be caused by tainted peanut butter. PCA is one of several peanut paste suppliers that the company uses in its Austin and Keebler branded peanut butter sandwich crackers.

Kellogg Company's investigation has not indicated any concerns, nor has the Company received any consumer illness complaints about these products. Nonetheless, Kellogg Company is taking precautionary measures including putting a hold on any inventory in its control, removing product from retail store shelves, and encouraging customers and consumers to hold and not eat these products until regulatory officials complete their investigation of PCA and Kellogg provides further information as to the resolution of this issue.
A national salmonella outbreak has sickened more than 430 people in 43 states and resulted in five deaths in Virginia, Minnesota and Idaho. However, despite this recall, the exact cause of those deaths haven't been determined.

Adolf Hitler Removed From Parents' Home

Little 'Dolf is back in the news. You might remember how Adolf Hitler Campbell and his parents had difficulty getting a birthday cake with the message "Happy Birthday, Adolf Hitler" on it? Well, he and his sisters have been removed from his parents' home, by the NJ Division of Youth and Family Services.

Adolf Hitler Campbell, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell were removed from the home of their parents, Heath and Deborah. According to NBC Philadelphia, it wasn't over the names which, although their parents swear they are not racists, seem to popularize Nazism (Honszlynn Hinler is a take-off on Heinrich Himmler).

Sgt. John Harris of the Holland Township police said:
“They assured me that removing the children had nothing to do with their names or the birthday cake incident. There were other factors that we were not privy to.”
OK ... we'll see what those other factors are as the story unfolds. It is true that Harris said he has known Heath and Deborah for some time, and believes them to be loving parents. Some have said however, if they were really loving, they wouldn't have subjected their kids to names that are bound to get them teased and perhaps beaten up at school.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bikini-Clad Katrina Darrell Fires Up American Idol

Billed as new fourth judge Kara DioGuardi's first episode, the eighth season of American Idol started with a bang, or rather, a near catfight as Katrina Darrell showed up wearing a barely-there bikini.

Katrina Darrell is probably more model than singer (if you Google her), but she did get the attention of host Ryan Seacrest when she said:
"Where's Ryan so I can make out with him?"
When asked why, Katrina Darrell said the obvious:
"I came dressed in my bathing suit to American idol because, first of all, I figured it would set me apart from the crowd, and secondly because I heard it was a crazy audition process and I figured, well, at least I'll have a tan."
Told by DioGuardi, "Honestly, you don't have the chops to sing that song, sweetie," Darrell shot right back: "But your demonstration wasn't any better."

Ouch! Katrina Darrell may not have the chops, but she has attitude. And she has a ticket to L.A., as well. Wonder why she made it? Take a look at the picture above for the obvious answer.

Watch an American Idol teaser clip from Fox that shows a little more, and also Simon's reaction to her entrance. It might be a good idea to watch for Darrell's next appearance. She was told by DioGuardi to show up naked.


Tim Geither Questioned Over Unpaid Social Security, Medicare Taxes

Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner ought to be really good with finances, you would expect. But perhaps not. According to a WSJ report, Geithner's confirmation has been put off over questions about Medicare and Social Security tax payments.

Or rather, the lack thereof, for several years while he worked for the International Monetary Fund.

Additionally, Tim Geithner apparently employed an immigrant housekeeper who briefly lacked proper work papers. I suppose the word briefly might be helpful, as the issue is really that her employment authorization expired three months before she quit working for Geithner's household.

Because of the issues, rather than a hearing, Tim Geithner had a closed door meeting on Tuesday with members of the Senate Finance panel, who will confirm, or reject, his nomination.

Several senators proclaimed they would still back him. Support even including GOP support, such as Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah:
"I still support him. He’s a very, very competent guy.”
With regard to Medicare and Social Security taxes, the IMF, as an international organization, does not withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from its American employees' paychecks. Those workers are supposed to to pay tax themselves, as if they were self-employed.

According to reports, Geithner’s accountant told him he was exempt from self-employment taxes (according to Obama transition officials), thus the issue with unpaid taxes.

A tempest in a teapot? Apparently Geithner volunteered to amend the earlier returns and pay the taxes and interest, a total of $25,970, after Obama indicated that he wanted to nominate him for the Treasury job.

Hopefully this will be resolved soon, as making it right is simply, it would appear, be a matter of writing a check. Still, what would a nomination be without controversy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Interns Fill Empty Seats at Bush's Final Press Conference

Remember in late 2007 when FEMA held a "fake news conference," with staffers replacing the non-existent reporters, as the conference was called hastily? This isn't quite so bad, but it's still embarrassing: for outgoing President George W. Bush's last press conference, on Monday, there were so many empty chairs that House interns were used to fill the empty seats.

The Bush administration might have caused the issue themselves. According to the Washington Post,
"ONE CORRESPONDENT PER ORGANIZATION," proclaimed the bulletin sent to reporters. "STANDING ROOM ONLY FOR NON-SEAT HOLDERS."
Expectations were high, but results, apparently, were low.

At least he didn't have interns ask the questions; during the FEMA "press conference" pre-written questions fed to the staffers and were used. On the other hand, according to the HuffPo, Bush was well-rehearsed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Openly Gay Bishop Picked by Obama to Give Pre-Inaugural Prayer

No, Barack Obama has not withdrawn his invitation to Rick Warren. Rick Warren will still give the invocation at Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration, shortly before Obama delivers his much-anticipated inaugural address. But Gene Robinson, the first openly gay diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion, in an obvious olive branch to the gay community, will share his invocation prayer Sunday afternoon on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during an inaugural kick-off event.

This decision comes after weeks of criticism over Obama's decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren, who's compared gay relationships to incest and polygamy, to give the invocation.

Gene Robinson is from New Hampshire, and lives there with his male partner (they have a civil union). He endorsed Obama during the campaign, and also met him during the Presidential primaries.

While Gene Robinson has called the choice of Warren a slap in the face, he said this about his inclusion in the ceremonies:
"I'm just overwhelmed and so humbled by this invitation. But this will certainly not go unnoticed in the gay and lesbian community. It's important for the people to feel represented."
According to the New York Times, Bishop Robinson said he had learned of the invitation about two and a half weeks ago. However, he and the Obama transition team agreed to unveil the news today in the Concord Monitor, Bishop Robinson’s local NH newspaper.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First Dog Breed Choice Narrows ...

He still has to do some homework, but it appears President-elect Barack Obama and family are closing in on their choice for First Dog. Obama appeared on ABC News' This Week and made some solid statements as to his nominations.

“They seem to have narrowed it down to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese Water Hound. We’re closing in on it. This has been tougher than finding a Commerce secretary," he told host George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos had been prompted to ask the question of their father by daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, who had joined him in the studio.

The choice of the First Dog has been difficult because of Malia's allergies. The search has centered on hypoallergenic dogs, such as the Labradoodle or the Portuguese Water Dog (not hound, as Obama said) because of that, although Obama stated when first asked about it that he would love a mutt, "like himself."

Despite what would seem to be a shaggy coat, the Portuguese Water Dog (once again, not hound) doesn't shed much, and is thus one of the breeds the AKC recommends on its website. The description on the AKC website says:
Known for centuries along Portugal's coast, this seafaring breed was prized by fishermen for a spirited, yet obedient nature, and a robust, medium build that allowed for a full day's work in and out of the water. The Portuguese Water Dog is a swimmer and diver of exceptional ability and stamina, who aided his master at sea by retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish, and carrying messages between boats and to shore. He is a loyal companion and alert guard.
The Labradoodle, on the other hand, is a designer breed, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle, and thus not recognized by the AKC. It is described as follows on the Wikipedia:
Like most Labrador Retrievers and Poodles, Labradoodles are generally friendly, energetic and good with families and children (although as with any dog the temperament may vary between individuals). Labradoodles also often display an affinity for water and the strong swimming ability present in both their parent breeds.

Like their parent breeds, both of which are amongst the world's most intelligent dog breeds, Labradooodles are very intelligent and quite trainable.
The Labradoodle is on the left above, while the Portuguese Water Dog is on the right. As a hybrid, Labradoodle appearance and temperament many vary.

"Dexter" and Sister Tie the Knot

Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, who play brother and sister on the hit Showtime drama "Dexter," are now husband and wife in real-life. Craig Bankey, Hall's spokesman, said on Friday that the couple eloped on New Year's Eve, in Big Sur, California.

The third season of "Dexter" has just wrapped. The show centers around Dexter Morgan, a serial killer. However, this serial killer only murders criminals, and in general, other serial killers.

Hall is 37, and Carpenter 29. They have been quietly dating for 1 1/2 years. Hall was previously married, but this is Carpenter's first marriage.

They will walk the runway together for the first time at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

U.S.S. George H. W. Bush Commissioned, as Son's Term Nears End

George W. Bush landed today on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush, CVN-77, named after his father, on the occasion of its commissioning.

The most famous aircraft landing made by President Bush, however, will always be on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, when he said "Mission Accomplished" in terms of Iraq. He was so wrong.

At any rate, the CVN-77, the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush was commissioned today. Besides the current President Bush, first lady Laura Bush and his father, now 84 years old, and other Bush family members met at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

For those wondering what the CVN in CVN-77 stands for, it stands for Carrier Vessel Nuclear. The navy has other such acronyms for other ship types, of course.

The U.S.S. George H. W. Bush displaces 90,000 tons, is over a 1000 feet long and carries nearly 100 aircraft. She is also the last of her kind, the last Nimitz-class carrier. The Nimitz class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers was first launched in 1972.

Price tag: a huge $6.2 billion.

Tradition is broken with the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush. Ships traditionally aren’t commissioned until they have undergone sea trials; CVN-77 is only 97% complete and the sea trials have been delayed.

It's obvious why this is being done, with the current President Bush to leave office in 10 days. Still this salute to his father, called a war hero by some and a disgraced pilot by others, is hardly enough to undo the multiple problems of our 43rd president.

Norse God Thor Scares Off Burglar

Well, there are rumors of a Thor movie, but this isn't a publicity stunt. Rather, a man returning from a costume party dressed as the Norse God Thor put quite a scare into a burglar.

Torvald Alexander, 6' tall and an imposing figure, was still dressed as the God of Thunder (and also a Marvel Comics superhero) came upon an intruder in his home in Inverleith, Edinburgh.

Alexander's costume consisted of a red cape and silver helmet and breastplate, as well as a lot of tinfoil. Alexander believes his costume, in addition to his already imposing size, may have added some impact:
"As soon as he saw me his eyes went wide with terror. We were both startled but then the instant reaction was that I ran at him and he just jumped straight out of the window. I think I would be quite scared if someone looking almost like a gladiator ran at them."
It's unclear if Alexander was carrying Thor's formidble hammer, Mjolnir, as well as his costume.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Would-Be Bank Robber Wore Mask While in Line

Stow, Ohio police have arrested a man in connection with a bank robbery, but one would have to ask how he even managed to rob the bank when he was wearing a ski mask in line. I mean, where was security?

A teller told him he would have to remove the mask while in the bank. However, he did not comply or reply, but rather continued to wait. As I said, where was security?

Once at the front of the line, he demanded cash. The teller gave him an undisclosed amount of money and he placed it in his own plastic bag. Goldshtein ran from the bank and drove away, but was, as I indicated, arrested soon afterward.

He has been charged with one count of aggravated robbery and one count of failure to comply.

Illinois House Impeaches Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich, who has been accused of trying to "sell" President-elect Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat, was nearly unanimously impeached by the Illinois House on Friday.

This move makes Rod Blagojevich the first governor in Illinois' history to be impeached and sends his case to the state Senate for trial. The required number of votes for impeachment was 60; the final tally was 114-1.

The only member to vote against impeachment was Milton Patterson (D-Chicago).

Patterson said that as he had no first-hand knowledge of the evidence, he went by his gut.

"I went by my own gut feeling, it's as simple as that. I read the report. If the government is going to indict him, let them go ahead and do that. That's their job and I'm doing my job."

For those unaware, Rod Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges which include allegations he tried to sell Obama's Senate seat (he is ... or was ... responsible for naming Obama's replacement in the Senate).

Evidence included wiretap information, and the investigation emcompassed years, including non-Obama based issues.

Despite this, Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to Obama's seat, but he has not been seated, per instructions by the Senate.

Blagojevich wasn't too upset apparently, as he went jogging after the impeachment was announced. Watch the video, broadcast on MSNBC today, via Raw Story.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Joe the Plumber" Becomes "Joe the War Correspondent"

Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known to most as "Joe the Plumber," is heading for a war zone. He is, according to the conservative website PJTV.com, going to Gaza to cover the ongoing conflict there.

He is, according to reports, going to spend 10 days there. He says he intends to get the often-lost, he says, Israel reason behind the offensive against Hamas.

He told WNWO-TV in Toledo that he wants to let Israel's "'Average Joes' share their story." I can't believe the guy saying that he's doing his civic duty. Please, he's trying to extend to 15 minutes of fame, which have way been used up, to make some money.

If he hadn't been picked up on by John McCain in a last-ditch effort, he would simply be an unlicensed plumber who would, in reality, do better under the Obama tax plan.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Here We Go Again: More in the $54 Million Missing Pants Case

Oh, come on. I thought this was over with. Remember the $54 million dollar missing pants case? Former judge Roy Pearson sued Custom Cleaners, because they lost a pair of his pants. And yes, he sued for $54 million. He eventually lost, and lost his job as well.

Unfortunately for the cleaners, they went out of business.

Pearson petitioned the D.C. Court of Appeals for another hearing on his case Tuesday. A three-judge panel of the Court rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling on Dec. 19. Pearson is now arguing that those judges failed to address all the issues in his appeal, and so is asking the full court to rehear the case.

Pearson originally claimed Custom Cleaners failed to live up to its promise of "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service."

Four-Year-Old Shoots Babysitter

A four-year-old in Jackson, Ohio shot a babysitter in the arm, with a shotgun, no less, after the babysitter stepped on his foot.

Yes, stepped on his foot.

Ethan Crisp, angered that 18-year-old Nathan Beavers was stepping on his toes (its unclear if it was intentional or not), stormed out of the room saying he was going to get a gun. He retrieved a 20-gauge shotgun from a bedroom closet, loaded and fired it at Beavers.

Beavers was treated for minor wounds to his arm and side, while Ethan's Uncle Brandon Fisher was also injured.

Police told WBNS:
"We can't charge a 4-year-old with anything. We'll talk to the prosecutor about possibly charging parents or babysitter."
I'm not sure what the babysitter would be charged with. I assume the parents could be charged for not keeping firearms out of the reach of a child. I would wonder if Beavers will seek to sue over the injury.

On the other hand, AP says that Beavers and several other teenagers were babysitting several young children in a mobile home. A makeshift daycare center? Worth looking into.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Report: Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to Run for CA Governor

Arnold Schwarzenneger will be "termed out" as California governor in 2010. Speculation has been that he would challenge Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer for her seat. On Monday, with the announcement that Meg Whitman has stepped down from the boards of eBay as well as those of Procter & Gamble Co. and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., we may have seen the first indication that Whitman is ready to run for Arnold's vacated spot.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a person close to the Whitman said she could announce her candidacy for governor in the next four to six weeks. AP received that same information.

Hector Barajas, a spokesman for the California Republican Party said:
"Being business-savvy is going to be an asset for her. That's one of the most important things people are looking for right now."
That's true right now. But in 2010, who knows?

Whitman is a staunch Republican, and that may work against her in the blue state known as California. While Schwarzenneger was able to use his Hollywood fame and the dismal performance of former governor Gray Davis to his advantage, Whitman will not have such an advantage.

She also faces a formidable field on both sides of the aisle, with Carly Fiorina, former HP head possibly running for the GOP, and Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein as possibles on the Democratic side.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tampon Ad Featuring a Beaver Ends Up Most Hated in Australia

Australia's Advertising Standards Bureau has released a list of the most hated, or perhaps more precisely, most complained about commercials in 2008. Tops on the list, with 185 complaints, was a Kotex tampon ad showing a woman carrying a beaver following her about all day long.

Get the drift? Beaver? Tampon. I hope so. The ad said:
"You only have one of them, so look after it."
The top three:

1. Kimberly-Clark - Kotex U – a beaver accompanies a young woman on daily activities. Viewers are told, "You only have one of them, so look after it".
Number of complaints: 185+
Board determination: Complaints dismissed

2. Domino's – Supercalafreakinawesome – a man dressed as a character called Many Toppings.
Number of complaints: 145+
Board determination: Complaints dismissed

3. Advanced Medical Institute – Want longer lasting sex billboard – re-consideration
Number of complaints: 110+
Board determination: Complaints upheld

Watch the #1 most complained about ad:


Friday, January 2, 2009

Airline Apologizes for Booting Muslim Family from Plane

As Colin Powell said so succinctly:
"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer is 'No. That's not America.' Is there something wrong with some 7-year old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America."
A New Year's Day incident aboard an AirTran domestic flight to Orlando resulted in a family of nine, eight of which were U.S. citizens (the ninth is a permanent U.S. resident) being booted off a flight when two other passengers heard them making what they thought were suspicious remarks about airline security.

The family included three children. The suspicious remark? According to the Washington Post:
Officials said two teenage girls sitting nearby became alarmed when they heard Sahin remark that sitting near the engines would not be safe in the event of an accident or an explosion. The girls told their parents, who told a flight attendant, AirTran officials said.

The Muslim passengers said their innocuous banter was misconstrued.

"The conversation we were having was the conversation anyone would have," Atif Irfan said in a telephone interview from Florida. "She did not use the word 'bomb,' she did not use the word 'explosion.' She said it would not be safe to sit next to the engines in the event of an accident."
The FBI was eventually called and cleared the family, yet AirTran refused to rebook them. AirTran apologized and offered to pay for the family's return flight and replacement tickets. How much of that is due to the threat by Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group.

"It is incumbent on any airline to ensure that members of the traveling public are not singled out or mistreated based on their perceived race, religion or national origin. We believe this disturbing incident would never have occurred had the Muslim passengers removed from the plane not been perceived by other travelers and airline personnel as members of the Islamic faith," said the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Jan. 2, 2008.

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