Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jaywalking Hero's Ticket Dropped

A good samaritan who was helping two elderly women cross a busy street, paid for it with broken bones and bleeding on the brain after pushing them out of the way of an oncoming truck. But, since he was jaywalking at the time, he was also issued a citation. However, the Colorado State Patrol has decided he has suffered enough.

Bus driver Jim Moffett, 58, of Denver and another man were helping two elderly women cross a busy Denver street in a snowstorm when Moffett was struck Feb. 20. He pushed the other three out of the way, but suffered bleeding on the brain, broken bones, a dislocated shoulder and a possible ruptured spleen.

The State Patrol said in a statement that it withdrew the citation after seeing what bad publicity it would be ... oh, rather, "after examining the ... circumstances" and consulting with prosecutors.

The Patrol had initially cited the jaywalking as leading to the incident.

Moffett's wife Donna said:
"He's doing better, but it's going to be a long, hard road for him. His knee is just completely destroyed, his shoulder was badly dislocated, he's got a lot of internal injuries.

"He told his son he'd do it again, which really upsets me because he almost lost his life."
Watch a video report on the incident:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mayor to Resign Over Racist "No Easter Hunt This Year" Email

Mayor Dean Grose of Los Alamitos, California has announced he will resign at Monday's City Council meeting. He drew fire for an email he sent to a constituent showing a picture of the White House lawn superimposed with a watermelon patch (above). The email had the subject "No Easter Egg hunt this year."

Uh, in case you're wondering: Republican.

Well, quite naturally there would be "No Easter Egg hunt this year." The Obamas planted a watermelon patch, right? Blatant racism. Yet Grose used the all too familiar refrain that he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.

Right. He's probably unaware that there's this major fault line that runs through the state of California that leads to earthquakes, too. This is the excuse many people use when they do something obviously racist and get caught at it.

The "No Easter Egg hunt this year" image has spread like wildfire, and those who are not trying to make an excuse for Grose will generally say, yes, this is racist.

One of the so-called "small group of friends" that Grose send his "No Easter Egg hunt this year" email to is Keyanus Price, who is African-American. She is most likely no longer a friend of Grose, don't you think? She said:
"I was horrified when I read that e-mail. What I'm concerned about is how can this person send an e-mail out like this and think it is OK? He's putting the city into a bad place, and he is a liability."
Price also told the AP:
"I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes. I honestly don't even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin'-mayor - come on."
It's good to see he's resigning. It's bad to see that despite the election of an African-American President, racism still abounds in this country.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guns-in-Church Bill Killed in Arkansas State Senate

An Arkansas state Senate panel on Wednesday rejected a bill that would allow concealed handguns in churches. But they didn't do it for what might be the common sense reason, meaning "why does someone need to carry a concealed weapon into a church," but rather after opponents complained that allowing firearms defies the notion that religious buildings are sanctuaries.

The bill had been passed Feb. 11 by the Arkansas House of Representatives by a vote of 57-42. But it failed by voice vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The only locations banned from allowing "concealed carry" in Arkansas are churches and bars.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Beverly Pyle, R-Cedarville, told the panel after the vote that she may try again with the proposal. She added,
"This is not a gun question, it is a question of religious freedom."

After all, Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, disagreed. "I don't know of any church where the carrying of guns is a sacred belief intrinsic to the doctrine of that church, like the holding of communion might be."

Religious freedom. Give me a break.

That is an excellent point. Is there a Cathedral of the Holy Firearm around somewhere that I am not aware of?

Good Samaritan Suffers Broken Bones as Well as a Ticket for Jaywalking

What is the old saying? "No good deed goes unpunished?" That seems to be the case here, as a good samaritan who was helping two elderly women cross a busy street, pushed them out of the way of an oncoming truck, and suffered broken bones as a consequence, has been ticketed for jaywalking.

The "crime" occurred last Friday, as 58-year-old bus driver Jim Moffett and another man were helping two elderly women cross a busy Denver street in a snowstorm. Moffett had been driving his bus when the two women disembarked. He got out and, together with another passenger, helped the elderly ladies cross the street, but not legally, unfortunately for him, but rather by jaywalking.

An oncoming pickup presented a danger (the pickup driver was cited with careless driving that led to injury), so Moffett pushed the other three out of the way, suffering cranial bleeding, broken bones, a dislocated shoulder and a possible ruptured spleen. He was in serious but stable condition Wednesday.

But despite his good intentions, the Colorado State Patrol issued a citation for jaywalking, saying that indeed the offense contributed to the accident.

Don't worry the other good samaritan didn't get off scot-free; he was also cited for jaywalking.

Still, while legally he could be cited for jaywalking, hasn't Jim Moffett suffered enough?

Obamas Nominate First Pup: a Portuguese Water Dog

Seemingly more than picking his Commerce Secretary, the Obamas have struggled with a choice for first dog, but it appears they have settled on a Portuguese water dog.

As we know, Malia Obama sufers from allergies, so the pick has been problematic because of that. The Portuguese water dog is one of the more hypoallergenic dogs, and was one of the top breed picks from the start (though Pres. Obama called it a hound, at first).

According to what Michelle Obama told People, though, the Malia and Sasha will have to wait until after Spring Break to get the Portuguese water dog. She told the girls:
"Got to do it after spring break. You can't get a new dog and then go away for a week."
The next major argument over the Portuguese water dog would appear to be name. Moose and Frank have been suggested by the girls (Frank?).

The AKC says the Portuguese water dog will be 20 to 23 inches at the withers (males) and 17 to 21 inches for females. Weight: For males, 42 to 60 pounds; for females, 35 to 50 pounds.

Fun facts about Portuguese water dogs:
  • They're members of the AKC's Working Group. They first became eligible for American dog show competition in 1984.
  • Sen. Ted Kennedy has two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash.
  • One of their original jobs was herding fish into fishermen's nets. Given their name, you might think they like the water, and they do. In fact, they have webbed feet.
  • Portuguese water dogs are often called "Porties."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mayor in Hot Water Over "Watermelons on White House Lawn" Email

Mayor Dean Grose of Los Alamitos, California, is under fire for an email he sent to a constituent showing a picture of the White House lawn superimposed with a watermelon patch (above). The email had the subject "No Easter Egg hunt this year."

Keyanus Price, who is African-American, is just one person who received the email, and she said:
"I was horrified when I read that e-mail. What I'm concerned about is how can this person send an e-mail out like this and think it is OK? He's putting the city into a bad place, and he is a liability."
Price also told the AP:
"I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes. I honestly don't even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin'-mayor - come on."
Also according to AP, Grose said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.

Oh, come on. How many people try to get away with saying "I wasn't aware such-and-such a thing was racist?"
For those who might see this as all in good fun (as Grose did, when he said "Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn't see this in the same light that she did"), please. And if he is truly too ignorant to know that watermelons are a symbol of racism, and that this picture obviously flaunts that, perhaps he shouldn't be mayor.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Teacher, 15-year-old Student, Found in W. Virginia Hotel

A 24-year-old teacher, Lisa Lavoie, and an unnnamed 15-year-old student were found in a Morgantown, West Virginia hotel room. The boy had been reported missing Feb. 16th.

Lisa Lavoie is (or was) a teacher at the Maurice A. Donahue Elementary School in Holyoke, Mass. The boy's parents had contacted the school on Feb. 13, noting concern about the relationship he had with the first-year teacher.

On Tuesday morning Holyoke Police Chief Anthony Scott said they tracked down the two by following a trail of financial and cell phone information (meaning credit cards, ATM charges, and the like). Apparently Lisa Lavoie doesn't watch enough shows like CSI. Morgantown police arrested Lavoie around 6:00 AM on Tuesday.

Holyoke Mayor Michael Sullivan said Lisa Lavoie was an 8th grade teacher and had only been teaching in Holyoke for five months. Lavoie is being held on charges of child endangerment, which includes a charge of statutory rape.

Arrangements are being made to return the boy to Holyoke, where he will be initially remanded to the Department of Children and Families. Meanwhile Lisa Lavoie is scheduled for a rendition (but not extraordinary rendition!) hearing on Tuesday afternoon.

At the same time the school district has place Lisa Lavoie on immediate administrative leave. She will obviously lose her teaching license if she is found guilty.

Monday, February 23, 2009

California Weighs Legalizing, Taxing Marijuana

In 1996, California became the first start to legalize medical marijuana. As cash-strapped as the state is, all bets are off. Assembly Bill AB 390 would legalize --- and tax --- marijuana sales in California.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, introduced legislation Monday. If approved by the California Legislature and signed by the governor, it would effectively do what many have wanted: make pot the same as alcohol, in terms of legalities, anyway.

AB 390 has been endorsed by some law enforcement officials and would tax all pot sales at a rate of $50 per ounce.

At a news conference at the state building on Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco, Ammiano said:
"With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move towards regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana."
Besides that, of course, it would add, according to Ammiano, $1.3 billion in tax revenue annually.

Ammiano added:
"We could in fact have the political will to do something, and certainly in the meantime this is a public policy call and I think it's worth the discussion. I think the outcome would be very healthy for California and California's economy."
Even if California were to pass this, federal law still prohibits marijuana use. That fact has gotten some medical marijuana users and growers into trouble, and AB 390 would just exacerbate that problem.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

McDonald's Denies Worker's Comp to Heroic Employee

I hope that, as is usual with these types of cases, once publicity gets out, McDonald's will back down. McDonald's has denied workers compensation benefits to an employee who was shot when he ejected a customer who had been beating a woman inside the restaurant. Why, you might ask? Well ...

A surveillance video of the incident, which had been posted to YouTube, was taken down after McDonald's charged copyright infringement (AKA, they wanted it pulled because of bad PR). However, TV station KARK has posted video that is not subject to copyright infringement. It's obvious from the video that Nigel Haskett, then aged 21, was a hero.

Nigel Haskett was working at a McDonald's in Little Rock, Arkansas last summer when he saw a patron, later identified as Perry Kennon, hitting a woman in the face. Haskett tackled Kennon, threw him out, and then after returning to the store, collapsed. Police say he was shot multiple times.

As a result of that act of heroism, Haskett has had multiple operations, and faces a $300,000 medical bill.

Sgt. Cassandra Davis of the Little Rock PD said:
He was an employee of the McDonald's; he was at work. He wasn't involved in the physical or verbal altercation initially. He did come to the aid of the female that was involved in the disturbance.
Sounds like a Good Samaritan Act, which according to this post, and the examples herein, if they provide Good Will Benefit toward the employer, and are thus "free advertising," are covered, even if the person is on a lunch break.

Of course, McDonald's actions now are probably not earning it good will with most people.

Misty Thompson, a rep of the administrator for McDonald's workers compensation plan said:
"... we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment."
Haskett’s attorney Philip Wilson said:
"They (worker's comp) do everything they can not to pay a client. That's what we have here. They just try to get out of paying any way they can."
Watch the news report, including surveillance video, here:

Army Charity Hoards, Rather Than Gives: Report

One criticism made of banks during this economic meltdown is that despite being given billions in bailout funds, they appear to be hoarding, rather than lending. An AP investigation seems to point to similar hoarding by the Army Emergency Relief fund, which is supposed to help put returning soldiers back on their feet.

The investigation shows that between 2003 and 2007, the fund spent just $64 million on direct aid, while saving $117 million into its own reserves.

According to the AER's website, the fund is supposed to "Help the Army take care of its own." Hard to do that without spending anything. Something like how a stimulus package needs spending as well.

During that same 2003 - 2007 period, the smaller Navy and Air Force charities both put far more of their own resources into aid than into their reserves. The Air Force charity put $24 million into reserves while spending $56 million in total aid, while the Navy charity put $32 million into reserves and dispensed $49 million in total aid.

It should be noted this period of time encompasses the watch of the Bush administration, in case anyone wants to make an issue of it.

According to the report,
most charity watchdogs view 1-to-3 years of reserves as prudent, with more than that considered hoarding. Yet the American Institute of Philanthropy says AER holds enough reserves to last about 12 years at its current level of aid.
The American Institute of Philanthropy, which grades charities, also gives the AER an "F" because of the hoarding.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Arrest Nears in Long-Cold Chandra Levy Murder Case

An arrest is near in the nearly ten-year-old murder of federal intern Chandra Levy, with reports that an arrest warrant will be issued within days. Her disappearance in May 2001 effectively ended Gary Condit's congressional career.

Chandra Levy, 24-years-old, left her apartment in May 2001 wearing jogging clothes and was not seen again. Her remains were found in Rock Creek Park in Washington about a year later. At the time of her disappearance, she was having an affair with Gary Condit, a married congressman from California.

At first Gary Condit denied the affair, but later had to admit it. It is widely believed that, while police did not consider him a suspect, the negative publicity over his affair with Chandra Levy was the main cause of his re-election defeat in 2002.

According to the Washington Post, after they published a 13-part serial narrative investigation into the Chandra Levy case in July, pointing to Ingmar Guandique, a Salvadoran immigrant, as the most likely suspect in the case, police and prosecutors have been building a case against Guandique.

Ingmar Guandique attacked two women at knifepoint in Rock Creek Park around the time of Chandra Levy's disappearance in May 2001. While he has denied any involvement in Levy's death, an inmate serving time with him told police that Guandique admitted the murder to him. Guandique is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison in California.

Guandique is pictured above, next to a photo of Chandra Levy.

ABC News in the SF Bay Area received this statement from the Levy family:
"Your child is dead and gone and it's painful but we're glad that the police and people are doing something, investigating, and making a difference so someone is not on the street to do it again."
Gary Condit's lawyer at the time of the incident, Abbe Lowell, said this finally vindicates his client:
"While very good news, it is a tragedy that the police and media obsession with former Congressman Condit delayed this result for eight years and caused needless pain and harm to the families involved. This should give the Levys the answer and closure they deserve and remove the unfair cloud that has hung over the Condits for too long."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Socks the Former First Cat, Dead at 20

Former first cat Socks, the former pet of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has passed away at the ripe old age of 20.

Socks the cat was a stray rescued by the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea. Socks first spent time at the governor's mansion in Arkansas but later moved to the White House with the rest of the family.

Socks the cat had actually been living with the Currie family since the Clintons left office. the Currie family. Betty Currie was Bill Clinton's former secretary.

Family friend and presidential historian Barry Landau cleared up some misconceptions about the separation of Socks the cat from the Clintons. Much had been made of the fact that Buddy stayed with the Clintons after Bill Clinton left office while socks went to live with the Curries.

Landau said:
"The truth be known, Betty asked if Socks could come live with her. The Clintons didn’t abandon Socks. They were totally conflicted. It broke their hearts, but they knew it would be the right thing for Socks’ welfare."
In a statement released through the William J. Clinton Foundation, Bill and Hillary Clinton said:
"Socks brought much happiness to Chelsea and us over the years, and enjoyment to kids and cat lovers everywhere. We're grateful for those memories, and we especially want to thank our good friend, Betty Currie, for taking such loving care of Socks for so many years."

LAPD Looks Into Leaked Rihanna "Beating" Pic

While speculation has arisen that the site TMZ Photoshopped a picture of Rihanna's bruised and battered face, some validation has emerged, in the form of an LAPD investigation into the leak.

Check out the full-sized image at TMZ here.

This would seem to indicate that the picture of Rihanna is a real photo, one without alterations, as why else would the LAPD be so interested?

While the original story about the reason that Rihanna dropped out of the Grammys was vague, later reports indicated that she was in fact the victim of domestic violence inflicted by boyfriend Chris Brown.

The LAPD said it takes victim confidentiality seriously, and with regards specifically to the Rihanna photo:
"The department launched an immediate internal investigation and subsequently filed a personnel complaint. A violation of this type is considerd serious misconduct, with penalties up to and including termination."
It sounds, indeed like the Rihanna photo is legit, and that the person who leaked the picture may have made a pretty penny, but he / she had better have covered up his / her tracks well, or they may be losing their job.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

100-Foot Borneo Monster Photographed. Or Not.

Borneo's version of the Loch Ness Monster, the 100-foot-long Borneo Monster, has apparently been photographed. Or has it?

However, much as in the case as photos of the Loch Ness Monster, the question is: are these photos from Borneo real, or altered?

Take a look at the Borneo monster photograph attached to this article. It could easily have been photoshopped. However, it would take an expert looking at the original to determine if it had been or not.

There are two photos in evidence. One photo, attached to this post, was supposedly taken from a a helicopter by a member of a disaster team monitoring flood conditions. The river is the Baleh river. According to locals, the Borneo monster may be a creature of local folklore called Nabau, a dragon-like, shape-shifting sea serpent.

Or a good job of photoshopping.

The second photo was taken from the ground. This meant the Borneo monster had been seen at least twice. But the photos have been released anonymously, and honestly, to me, they do look like they may have been 'shopped. What do you readers think?

Is this a real monster sighting? Or are we just the victims of a hoax?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New York Post Cartoon Compares Obama to a Chimp

At best insensitive to the victim of this week's mauling of a woman by a pet chimp, and at worst racist, the New York Post released a cartoon this week that could be interpreted as comparing Barack Obama to a chimpanzee.

As the Huffington Post says:

At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Others believe it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial. Perhaps that's what (cartoonist Sean) Delonas wanted.
"The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this when in the cartoon they have police saying after shooting a chimpanzee that 'Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.'

"Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?"
BTW, Barack Obama, or any President, doesn't write the bills. They just sign, or veto, them.

The New York Post took the pains to defend its cartoon, saying:
"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."
It constantly amazes me how people who know the obvious truth will attempt to feign ignorance at something that's obviously racist in nature.

Police Release Terrifying "Chimp Attack" 911 Tape

Stamford, CT police have released the 911 call made Monday when a pet chimpanzee, Travis the chimp, went berzerk. On the tape, you can hear the chimp’s owner, Sandra Herold, plead for help as her pet attacks her friend. You can also hear the chimp in the background.

The attack, in which Charla Nash, 55, suffered serious facial injuries and blood loss, occurred on Monday. The owner of the chimp was Sandra Herold, 70. Travis the chimp was more than a pet; he had been used in commercials and appeared on TV, yet he attacked without warning.

Here is a transcript of the "chimp 911 call" and it is also attached as a YouTube video.
  • Caller: Send the police!
  • Operator: What's the problem there?
  • Caller: The chimp killed my friend.
  • Operator: What's the problem with your friend; I need to know.
  • Caller: Send the police, with a gun, with a gun. He ripped her face off.
  • Operator: He ripped her face off?
  • Caller: He tried to attack me. Please, please hurry.
  • Operator: OK, I need you to calm down a little bit. They're on the way.
  • Caller: Please hurry up, he's killing my girlfriend ...
  • Operator: [Address], they're saying someone has a gun and is trying to kill somebody ...
  • Caller: Hurry up!
  • Operator: They are are on their way.
  • Caller: Hurry up!
  • Operator: They are on their way but I need you to give me some more information...who is doing this?
  • Caller: With guns ...
  • Operator: Who has the gun?
  • Caller: No, bring the guns. You've have got to kill my chimp.
  • Operator: What is the problem there?
  • Caller: Hurry up ...
  • Operator: I need you to talk to me..I need you to calm down...why do you need somebody there?
  • Caller: What ... please, God ...
  • Operator: What is the problem?
  • Caller: He is killing my friend.
  • Operator: Who's killing your friend?
  • Caller: My chimpanzee! She's dead, she's dead.
  • Operator: Why are you saying she's dead?
  • Caller: She's dead, he ripped her apart.
  • Operator: He ripped what apart, her face?
  • Caller: Everything.
Listen to the audio. It's a terrifying 911 call, and as I said, you can hear sounds of the chimp attack in the background.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Woman Seriously Mauled in Attack by Celebrity Chimp

Charla Nash, 55, of Stamford, CT, was injured seriously when attacked by the 200-pound pet chimpanzee of her friend, Sandra Herold, 70. In fact, Travis the chimp was more than a pet; he had been used in commercials and appeared on TV, yet he attacked without warning.

Police were forced to shoot the chimp when after the owner, unable to stop the attack, dialed 911. Travis the chimpanzee eventually died of his wounds.

According to reports, Nash suffered serious facial injuries and a severe loss of blood from the chimp attack. She is currently hospitalized at Stamford Hospital.

Stamford police Lt. Richard Conklin said:
"She (Herold) retrieved a large butcher knife and stabbed her longtime pet numerous times in an effort to save her friend, who was really being brutally attacked.

"He's been raised almost like a child by this family. He rides in a car every day, he opens doors, he's a very unique animal in that aspect. We have no indication of what provoked this behavior at all."
Despite that assertion, it should be noted that Travis the chimp had a record: he chimp escaped in 2003 and caused pandemonium on the streets of Stamford for a couple of hours.

Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin told CNN:
"It's often said that an adult chimpanzee weighing in at 150 pounds is three to seven times stronger than a human being.

"The thing about chimpanzees is, we sort of look at them through our rose-colored cultural glasses of the cute little chimp in the 'Tarzan' movie. Those are very young chimps. Chimps grow up, they become very powerful. They are very complex in their behavior. They have a whole range of emotions, including violence and anger."
Travis the chimp was, from reports, 15. Travis appeared on TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola when he was younger, made an appearance on the "Maury Povich Show" and took part in a television pilot. But all those facts will be forgotten in the wake of this attack.

Once again, a wild animal is a wild animal. Chimps have not been domesticated like dogs and cats have (and for those of you with big cats, neither have tigers or lions or the like). Although you may think they are a pet, any little thing can set them off. And then you have an attack like this.

Watch a video report below; includes comments by Corwin.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Historians: Lincoln Top President Overall; Bush: 36

It's President's Day, and what better day to hold a presidential ranking survey? This is C-SPAN's second "Historians Presidential Leadership Survey," first done in 2000.

The presidential ranking is done using the following individual leadership categories:
  • Public Persuasion
  • Crisis Leadership
  • Economic Management
  • Moral Authority
  • International Relations
  • Administrative Skills
  • Relations with Congress
  • Vision/Setting An Agenda
  • Pursued Equal Justice For All
  • Performance Within Context of Times
Abraham Lincoln finished first in the 2000 presidential ranking, and finished first again. George Washington and FDR swapped places; FDR dropped to #3 while Washington rose to #2.

George W. Bush falls in at #36, so amazingly to some, there are several Presidentials with rankings less than his. They are: Millard Fillmore, Warren G. Harding, William Henry Harrison (because of pneumonia, he had only about a month in office), Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan.

Readers, what would your presidential ranking be? Feel free to comment.

Woman Goes Into Hysterics After Missing Flight

A woman who missed her flight at Hong Kong's international airport went into hysterics and has thus become a YouTube video star. The "woman going insane after missing her flight video" has over 1.35 million hits at the time of this writing.

The unidentified woman literally went nuts after missing the Cathay Pacific flight, which was bound for San Francisco. Cathay Pacific had already closed the plane’s doors and had offloaded the her baggage.

The video, at shows her charging the gate and going into what amounts to a three-minute rant.

The woman sprawled across the Cathay Pacific counter, and later ended up on the ground, where a pair of men, including an elderly man who appeared to be traveling with her, tried to help her up. She resisted, shouting in Cantonese: "I want to go, I want to go."

A male Cathay Pacific staff member is heard saying on the video: "Don’t be so upset, don’t be so emotional."

Cathay Pacific said it put the woman and her two travel companions on a later flight, at no extra cost. They probably wanted her out of the airport as quickly as possible. The incident occurred earlier this month.

I'd expect to see the "woman going insane after missing her flight video" in this year YouTube Video Awards.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

118 Cats Euthanized After "Rescue" from Mobile Home

118 cats, which had been taken from a St. Anthony, Minn. mobile home last week, were euthanized, authorities said.

Humane Society officials rescued the 118 cats on Tuesday. The stench in the mobile home was so bad they had to call in the fire department to ventilate the home. Police were called after someone complained about the smell.

The couple who lived there, Stanley and Cheryl Saladis, have a history with "hoarding" cats. Prior to this incident, police had to remove 72 cats from their previous residence in Coon Rapids, Minn. That was 2002, and Stanley Saladis was convicted of animal cruelty.

His sentence included a $3,000 fine and an order to not have any dogs or cats during a two-year probation.

A statement released by the Animal Humane Society last week with regards to the 118 cats being euthanized explained:
"They are damaged from their marginalized environment -- both psychologically and physically."
The couple was not cited, but were instead referred to social services.

Watch a video report below:

SNL: How the GOP is the "Party of Opposition" and Hannity is Smarter Than Rush

Dan Ackroyd made a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live last night, lampooning the Republicans as looking less to helping the American people than to trying to get back in the majority.

The Republicans even wasted time arguing about who's smarter: Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh.
WILL FORTE: Hannity's brilliant.

ANDY SAMBERG: Yeah, smartest man in America.

JASON SUDEIKIS: No wait a minute. Sean Hannity's the smartest man in America?

SAMBERG: In my opinion, yes.

SUDEIKIS: Smarter than Rush?

SAMBERG: I think he's as smart as Rush.

SUDEIKIS: No, that's idiotic. No, no one is as smart as Rush Limbaugh. NO ONE!
Later than the GOP said they really needed to take the Obama kids down a peg:
SAMBERG: Unless I'm politically tone deaf, the whole the country is waiting to see those Obama kids taken down a peg, especially the younger one.

AKROYD: I agree. Going after the Obama girls is political gold.
Watch the video:


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Publicist of Octuplets' Mom Quits Over Death Threats ...

... but Nadya Suleman now has an agent!

On the other hand, for those who feel Nadya Suleman had octuplets so she could hit it big money-wise, it's still going to be a little more difficult for her now, as her publicist has quit.

The Killeen Furtney Group was representing Nadya Suleman for free. However, it decided to end its associaton with the octuplet mom after receiving at least 100 e-mailed threats and tons of voicemails that went to the LA agency and even to some of its other clients.

Joann Killeen, president of the company, added that Suleman now has an agent: Wes Yoder and the Ambassador Agency. He is the same man who arranged book and music deals for the McCaughey septuplets a decade ago. I guess he has experience with multiple birth cash-outs.

The publicist went so far as to create a website for Suleman and her brood. You can leave donations or comments; interestingly, there does not seem to be a way to see comments already left. I wonder why?

According to the LA Times, Killeen said:
"They hope I die, they hope my business goes under, they want to rip her uterus out. They say I should be anesthetized and put down like a dog.

"The American public have just lashed out. I think it has to do with the economy, healthcare -- there's not a lot of jobs, people are unemployed and are trying to take care of their families."
To MSNBC, Killeen said:
"They'd put me in the wood chipper and throw me in the bottom of the ocean and hope I die. We've gotten her through the worst part of it and now they are putting their venom and anger toward us.

"We've never had a public reaction to us representing a client pro bono like this, ever."
Initial reaction to the birth of octuplets was that it was a miracle. Then, however, when details surfaced about Nadya Suleman, including that she had six other children via IVF, public opinion soured.

The fact that she was already single-mother receiving state aid to help her raise her other six children, aged two to seven, did nothing to help her case.

Her use of IVF to give birth to 14 children has also been criticized by fertility experts. To be honest, it's also a source of discussion among mental health experts, including some I know personally.

Fate Saves Paul Twaragowski from Flight 3407

How many of you have seen the movie Final Destination? Friends are supposed to board a plan together, but after one of them has a premonition and freaks out they get tossed. They missed the plane, which crashes. Now fast-forward to Continental flight 3407, and consider how Paul Twaragowski feels.

Who is Paul Twaragowski? He's the lucky passenger who missed the flight, though he did not feel lucky at the time. His flight from New Orleans, LA, to Newark, NJ was delayed, so he missed his connection with the doomed flight.

But late as he was, and with his cell phone obviously having no signal on his flight, when he arrived in NJ 23-year-old Paul Twaragowski he was surprised at all the missed phone calls and text messages on his phone.

Once he managed to call a friend back, he realized why. Because everyone thought that Paul Twaragowski was dead, a victim of flight 3407.

Paul Twaragowski told ABC News:
"I am a complete believer in fate, so I am lookin' at it in a positive view, because I am a positive person. I believe for whatever reason, my name was on that ticket and that ticket number, 3407, was on that boarding pass, but for whatever reason, I wasn't meant to be on there. And I am just thankful and happy to be here.

"I just wanted to say again my deepest sympathies and sorry for those involved in the tragedy, especially the family of those that were victims of the plane and everyone involved."
In the movie, those who missed the plane were picked off one at a time. They were, in fact, supposed to die on that flight. That being a movie and this being reality, that won't happen to Paul Twaragowski. Luck, and an all-too-familiar airline delay, has spared him.

U.K. Veteran Commits Suicide Over Madoff Losses

A retired British Army major has killed himself after losing his life savings to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Just before Christmas Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, a hedge fund manager, killed himself after his fund lost $1.4 billion to Madoff.

William Foxton, 65, who retired last November had invested his entire savings in the Herald USA Fund and Herald Luxemburg Fund, both of which suffered hundreds of millions in losses as a result of Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

Last Tuesday, he left his Southampton home and walked to a park, where, sitting on a bench, he shot himself in the head with a pistol.

Foxton's son, Willard, 28, told the Times Online:
"I think it’s disgusting that Bernie Madoff is sitting in his New York property, thinking that all he did was steal money, when, in fact, what he was really doing was ruining lives.

"I feel a little helpless at the moment. Essentially I want Madoff and others involved in Herald funds to know that they have my father’s blood on their hands."
William Foxton was a decorated soldier who lost an arm in combat before retiring from the military in 1970s. During the 1990s and 200s he was a member of the European Commission Monitoring Mission and also spent time as a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He also did work for the German charity Arbeiter Samariter Bund, according to his son.

Willard Foxton told AP that he was so angry at first, he wanted to go to Madoff's trial and throw his father's medals in Madoff's face.

Madoff was arrested in December as his Ponzi scheme unraveled as investors frightened over the recession wanted to take their money out; he remains confined under house arrest.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Peanut Corporation of America Files for Bankruptcy

Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), the company responsible for the contaminated peanut butter and peanut paste that has sickened hundreds and may be responsible for nine deaths, as a result of salmonella, has filed for bankruptcy.

The salmonella outbreak was traced to PCA's plant in Blakely, GA. There inspectors found roaches, mold and a leaking roof. Emails revealed at a Senate hearing on Thursday revealed that execs knew of the issues.

Additionally, PCA has been accused of re-testing products until a negative result came back, an definite no-no.

A second plant in Plainview, TX was closed this week after preliminary tests came back positive for possible salmonella contamination. Additionally, rodents and excrement were found at the Texas plant.

PCA filed for Ch. 7 bankruptcy, which means it does not plan to re-open. Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection allows a company time to reorganize and reduce debt while it tries to continue doing business.

The government has opened an investigation into the case; in the aforementioned Senate hearing, PCA president Stewart Parnell refused to answer an questions, taking the 5th every time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Starbucks Readies $1 Instant Coffee

Starbucks, facing the realities of the worst recession in decades, announced on Thursday it will begin selling instant coffee at its outlets.

The company said that it had been working on the product for 20 years, and that it perfectly replicates the flavor of Starbucks' coffee.

The Via line, which the company plans to unveil on Tuesday, is an obvious attempt to maintain revenue in a recession that is forcing consumers to try less costly coffee, such as McDonald's, which has released a premium line of coffee and is attracting a lot more caffeine-deficient customers than before.

Starbucks said in its press release that the instant coffee market is a $17 billion global coffee market. The instant coffee will sell at its cafes for $2.95 for a pack of three, and $9.95 for a pack of 12, and $1 a cup.

Last month, Starbucks announced plans to cut as many as 6,700 jobs and close 300 more stores, following a profit drop of 69% in its fiscal first quarter.

Needs to Be Seen: Joaquin Phoenix's Strange Interview on Letterman

Joaquin Phoenix appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday night, in a somewhat bizarre interview appearance. It wasn't just that Phoenix seemed strangely ZZ Top-ish appearance, he was unresponsive to questions and seemed to be somewhat slurring his words.

When Joaquin Phoenix did respond to David Letterman, he gave one word answers for the most part.

The 34-year-old two-time Oscar nominee appeared with David Letterman to promote his last film, Two Lovers. His behavior was strange, and at one point, he even pulled some chewing gum from his mouth and stuck it to the Letterman's desk.

Joaquin Phoenix has already indicated he was retiring from acting to focus on his music career. According to Phoenix, he will be focusing on hip-hop.

Letterman concluded his interview by saying:
"Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight. I think we owe an apology to Farrah Fawcett."
The reference to Fawcett was with regards to a similar strange appearance the actress made on The Late Show in 1993.


School Cancels Slave Costume Day

In another of those "what were they thinking" stories, a Mississippi elementary school has decided to cancel (as part of Black History Month) Cotton Picking Day, a day that they encouraged students to dress as slaves.

Lillie Burney Elementary backtracked quickly on the issue. Cotton Picking Day was replaced with Career Day.

Ray Coleman, a parent, brought the issue to the attention of the school after seeing it on his stepson's school calendar.
Coleman said he told School Superintendent Annie Wimbish it was inappropriate to name the event Cotton Picking Day and to invite students to dress as slaves or in overalls.

"I believe it's something that should be taught in history, but it shouldn't be relived," he said. "I think they should look at the positive aspects to show students what they can achieve."
As a commenter at the newspaper's site pointed out, both the superintendent and principal of the school are African-American. Therefore, we can chalk this up to a bad decision, and not thinking too clearly.

Coleman added:
"I'm glad they decided to do something else that will portray African-American history more positively."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

$15 Million Lawsuit Claims Roberto Alomar Knowingly Had Unprotected Sex While AIDS-Infected

On a positive note, for once a baseball story that has nothing to do with steroids. On a negative note, it instead involves AIDS.

The New York Daily News reports that former baseball superstar Roberto Alomar ex-girlfriend has filed a $15 million lawsuit, charging the ex-player has full-blown AIDS, yet insisted on having unprotected sex.

The lawsuit alleges a month after dating Alomar, now 41, convinced Ilya Dall, 31, (pictured) to have unprotected sex, saying he was disease-free. Yet over a three-year period, with their relationship commencing in 2002, Dall says she watched his health deteriorate.

The suit says he was finally tested in 2006 and that "the test results of him being HIV-positive was given to him and the plaintiff on or about Feb.6, 2006." I'm no lawyer, but I'm confused, because if he didn't know until 2006 and the unprotected sex occurred a month after they began dating in 2002 ... ?

On the other hand, according to the lawsuit, he had several symptoms which would point to HIV: cold sores, thrush, chronic cough, and fatigue.

Dall never contracted the disease, but is is suing for emotional distress and the danger Alomar posed to her two children while the couple lived together.

A-Rod's Surprise Steroid Cream Rub-down on "The Late Show"

Alex Rodriguez, the latest baseball superstar to be "outed" for using steroids, made a surprise appearance on The Late Show Tuesday night, showing how the formerly top-secret "The Cream" is applied.

In reality, The Late Show took a clip of the A-Rod receiving a rub-down from a member of The Late Show crew back in 2007 but altered it to be more, er, topical.

On Monday night, The Late Show also spoofed A-Rod, making him the target of their Top Ten List:

Top Ten Messages Left on Alex Rodriguez's Answering Machine last night...

10. "Hey, it's Mark McGwire. Want to get together this week and not talk about the past?"

9. "Joe Torre here--thanks for helping book sales"

8. "Could you find a steroid that keeps you from choking in the playoffs?"

7. "Are you worried this will taint all the championships you didn't win?"

6. "It's Bernie Madoff. Nice try but I'm still the most hated man in New York"

5. "Michael Phelps here. Got any snacks?"

4. "This is Sammy Sosa. Just pretend you don't speak English"

3. "Michael Phelps again. Did I call you or did you call me?"

2. "Hey, it's Rod Blagojevich -- I'll say you're innocent, if you say I am"

1. "It's Madonna. You got a phone number for Jeter?"


Monday, February 9, 2009

Suleman Dishes on Fertility Clinic

In the second part of her Today Show interview, Nadya Suleman gave us the information we all wanted: the name of the fertility clinic that did the IVF involved in the birth of her octuplets.

It was patently obvious to me that Kaiser Permanente would not have done the implantation; the actual procedure was done at the West Coast IVF Clinic. One has to wonder why the site hasn't collapsed under hits from the curious.

The clinic is run by Michael M. Kamrava, M.D. That doesn't mean he necessarily did the implantation himself, however. It should be noted that the clinic had previously been named West Coast Infertility Medical Clinic.

Ann Curry pointedly asked her about what many have said: that she got pregnant specifically to make a lot of money. Suleman denied this and told Curry that money is "paper." She continues to say that she is not on government assistance.
"I will feed them; I will do the best I possibly can. In my own way, in my own faith, I do believe wholeheartedly that God will provide in his own way."
Watch the second part of the Today Show interview below.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ann Coulter Investigated by Connecticut for Voter Fraud

The New York Daily News reports that conservative pundit Ann Coulter is under investigation by the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission for allegedly voting in Connecticut while registered to vote in New York City.

According to the report:
Officials are responding to a formal complaint filed by blogger Dan Borchers. "For over 10 years, Ann Coulter has gotten away with illegal, immoral and unethical behavior, ranging from plagiarism to defamation, perjury to voter fraud," claims the conservative Borchers.
At the time she voted, Coulter said she was living with her parents in Connecticut, despite the fact that she had just purchased a $1.49 million condo in New York City.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bernie Madoff Victim Returns to Work, at Age 90

Many have seen their retirement savings dry up as the stock market has dropped precipitously in the recession. But there are also those who were victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme who lost everything. And one such California resident has had to return to work, at age 90.

Ben Lomond resident Ian Thiermann, 90, lost approximately $750,000 in the Bernie Madoff scam. He is, or rather was, a retired businessman and he is now back on the job working 30 hours a week as a grocery store greeter.
"I've lost everything and you have lost everything."
Fortunately for Thiermann, when the owner of the Ben Lomond Market heard the news, he offered Thiermann the job. There are many, young and old, without a job (7.6% in the U.S. as reported on Friday).

The job pays $10 / hour, but Thiermann needs the job: he still owes money on his house.

Still, he's not bitter. He said:
"You meet a situation like this, what are you gonna do, fold up? Instead of crying, yelling or being mad about it, face it and move on."

A-Rod Tested Positive for Steroids in 2003: Report

Has another superstar athlete just created a situation that's bound to make it difficult for him to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame? Move over Barry Bonds; it's Alex Rodriguez.

According to an exclusive SI report, Alex Rodriguez (AKA A-Rod) tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Four independent sources told SI the information. That is the same year that Alex Rodriguez won the American League home run title and the AL MVP award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers.

Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two banned substances, the anabolic steroid Primobolan and testosterone, the sources said.

According to SI, requests for comment players' union executive director Donald Fehr were not responded to, but A-Rod gave the following evasive statement to an SI reporter:
"You'll have to talk to the union. I'm not saying anything."
His name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in a 2003 baseball survey according to Sports Illustrated.

The results of the testing of 1,198 players were meant to be anonymous under the agreement between the commissioner’s office and the union, but we know how those deals usually work out. In fact, the information was found after federal agents, armed with search warrants, seized the 2003 results from Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc., in Long Beach, CA as part of the BALCO investigation.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jessica Simpson Melts Down in Grand Rapids

Jessica Simpson had an "off night," according to a representative, but that was putting it mildly, as at an appearance in Grand Rapids, MI, as the opening act for Rascal Flatts, she had a near meltdown on Thursday night.

Grand Rapids was host to Jessica Simpson, who said she was having problems with her ear monitors, but she also had trouble remembering the lyrics to her songs. She even had to have her backing bad finish some of her songs, and even the crowd as the meltdown continued.

Finally, according to reports, she left the stage in tears.

"Jessica had an off night," said Cindi Berger, a representative. "She's a perfectionist and wanted to start some of the songs over. She always wants to give her best performance to her fans."

Surprisingly, she wasn't booed. In many areas, she sure would have been. There were 9,000 people there, and at one time she even mouthed the word "sorry" to the two large video screens.

Jessica Simpson has been under intense scrutiny, and even had some tabloids come out calling her overweight this week. According to reports, she was expecting boyfriend Tony Romo to show up at the concert, but he did not. Possibly good; he missed the "meltdown in Grand Rapids."

Octuplets' Mother Defends Herself

The Today Show's Ann Curry managed to get an exclusive interview with Nadya Suleman, the 33-year-old single mom who last week gave birth to octuplets via in vitro fertilization when she already had six other children. The incident has raised ethics questions, pointed both at her as well as the fertility specialist who implanted 6 embryos (two of which twinned) in her.

Here is part of the interview (watch it below):
Ann Curry: "People feel, you know, this woman is being completely irresponsible and selfish to bring these children in the world without a clear source of income and enough help to raise them. The world outside is saying, 'What are you doing?'"

Nadya Suleman: "I know I'll be able to afford them when I'm done with my schooling. If I was just sitting down watching TV and not being as determined as I am to succeed and provide a better future for my children, I believe that would be considered, to a certain degree, selfish."

Curry: "So, the world outside is saying, what are you doing?"

Suleman: "I'm providing myself to my children. I'm loving them unconditionally, accepting them unconditionally. Everything I do, I'll stop my life for them, and be present with them and hold them and be with them. And how many parents do that? I'm sure there are many that do, but many don't. And that's unfortunate, and that is selfish.
Suleman also added "All I wanted was children. I wanted to be a mom. That's all I ever wanted in my life. I love my children."

She added that the doctor who implanted the embryos was the same that had previously worked with her, so he already knew she had six children. That is a point of contention: the Medical Board of California is investigating whether there were any violations by that fertility doctor.

Finally, it appears that the same donor provided the sperm for all 14 of her children. He must reallyb e happy (insert sarcasm here)! According to Today, she working toward a Master's degree in counseling. I'm sorry, my wife is a psychologist; a counselor with just a Master's Degree is not going to make enough to support 14 children.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Michael Phelps Suspended Over Bong Pic

USA Swimming has suspended Michael Phelps for three months of competition after a picture which appeared in News of the World showing him taking a hit off of a bong. They also cut off their financial support for Phelps for the same three-month period, effective Thursday.

USA Swimming posted a statement on their website regarding the Michael Phelps suspension:
USA Swimming has reprimanded Michael Phelps under its Code of Conduct by withdrawing financial support and the eligibility to compete for a period of three months effective today, Feb. 5, 2009.

This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero.

Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust.
Considering his endorsements, I doubt that USA Swimming withdrawing their financial support will make much of a difference. USA Swimming provides a $1,750 monthly stipend to athletes.

Far more disturbing than the marijuana itself were the comments by the witness, who noted that women were all over Phelps and that:
"He was out of control from the moment he got there. If he continues to party like that I’d be amazed if he ever won any more medals again."
Absolute celebrity corrupts absolutely?

FAA Releases "Hudson River Crash" Transcripts and Tapes

The FAA on Thursday released the full set of tapes and transcripts related to the Hudson River crash of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on Thursday. This followed a report on Wednesday that stated that bird remains were found in the plane's engines.

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the captain of Flight 1549, performed a miraculous ditching in the Hudson River, with no fatalities. He has been called the "Hero on the Hudson."

According to the FAA posting, most of the communications with the pilot while the aircraft was in the air are contained in the tape and transcript for the New York Tracon. All times are in Greenwich Mean Time, which is five hours ahead of EST.

The tape is amazing because of the relative calmness of Capt. Sullenberger. Note that there are plenty of silence spaces at the beginning of the tape so be patient. I will admit it's amazing how often both the pilot and tower make mistakes with flight numbers; I assume it hasn't caused an issue before. Some excerpts just prior to ditching (cactus 1549 is US Airways 1549 and is listed as AWE1549 below):

2029:21 L116 cactus fifteen twenty nine turn right two eight zero you can land runway one at teterboro

2029:25 AWE1549 we can't do it

2029: 26 L116 okay which runway would you like at teterboro

2029:28 AWE1549 we're gonna be in the hudson

2029:33 L116 i'm sorry say again cactus

2029:41 L116 jetlink twenty seven sixty contact new york one two six
point eight

2029:45 BTA2760 twenty six eight jetlink twenty seven sixty

2029:51 L116 cactus ah cactus fifteen forty nine radar contact is lost you also got newark airport off your two o'clock and about seven miles

The full list of transcripts and tapes is here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nazi War Criminal Aribert Heim Died in 1992: Report

The world's most wanted Nazi criminal, Aribert Ferdinand Heim, died in 1992 in Cairo, Egypt, according to reports from both the New York Times and Germany's ZDF television.

Aribert Ferdinand Heim was a member of Adolf Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS. He was also an MD at the Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen concentration camps.

Heim earned the nickname Dr. Death for various profane acts, including performing operations on prisoners without anesthesia, removing organs from healthy inmates, then leaving them to die on the operating table, injecting poison into the hearts of inmates, and still more.

Aribert Ferdinand Heim managed to eke out a living in Germany, much of it in Baden-Baden with a wife, two sons and a medical practice as a gynecologist.

In 1962 he escaped capture just as investigators closed in; since then his whereabouts were unknown.

ZDF said that in a joint investigation with the NYT, it found that Heim had been living in a hotel room under the pseudonym Tarek Hussein Farid. According to the report, he had converted to Islam.

ZDF also quoted Ruediger Heim, Aribert's son as confirming the alias as his father's assumed name and documents ZDF found as belonging to him.

However, although ZDF uncovered a death certificate for Farid, they did not find the grave, and thus, the Simon Wiesenthal Center will not close the case. Head Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff said, "There's no grave, there's no corpse, there's no DNA tests."