Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Carrier Pigeons Used to Smuggle Cell Phones Into Prison

Prisoners desperate for cell phones have devised a new method to smuggle them into prison: carrier pigeons.

Consider it a modern-day Birdman of Alcatraz, with a twist. Someone had to train the pigeons. Carrier pigeons fly between two points, after all.

Inmates at the Danilio Pinheiro prison near the southeastern city of Sorocaba in Brazil have apparently been enterprising in terms of avian activities.

Two carrier pigeons, one each on successive days, were caught at the prison. Each was carrying a cell phone and a charger.

A spokesman for the state penitentiary system said:
"Penitentiary agents found the pigeons outside the Danilo Pinheiro prison but, fortunately, the birds did not have time to enter the prison building with the material."
Since the pigeons return to their "home," the birds were apparently bred and raised inside the prison, smuggled out, outfitted with the cell phone parts and then released to fly back.

In the past, smuggling of this nature would involve visitor accomplices or even guards; this is a new and somewhat clever scheme. Though flighty.

Arrested Man Patted Down Four Times, Still Has Gun

A man arrested on a drug charge was able to "survive" four pat-downs, and still keep his gun, showing an alarming security hole, and perhaps a lack of training.

Bennie Ellison, 39, was arrested March 18 and managed to keep the gun all the way until he reached the Cook County Jail where, realizing he would have to disrobe and change his clothes, he dumped it in a laundry room.

He was patted down four times:
  • The arresting officers patted him down and missed it.
  • He was patted down again at the 4th District police station (where he spent the night)
  • He was patted down at Central Booking
  • He was patted down at the courthouse
How did he avoid the metal detector at the courthouse?

It was a small, .380 semiautomatic handgun and Ellison used the drawstring of his shorts to tie the gun so it dangled between his legs. According to a police spokesman he slipped out of line and into a different line.

Ellison held onto the gun thinking he would be granted low bail and released.

Cook County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Patterson said:
“Clearly, there were officers at the jail not doing their job and we’re in the process of taking statements from each one of them about how this could have happened. We’re taking this seriously and plan to enact discipline up to and including termination, if necessary.”
Yeah, well, I hope so.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bernie Madoff Earns a Trading Card Spot

Baseball cards yes, but scammer cards? That's apparently the idea behind trading card company Topps' latest set of cards, scheduled for release this summer, called the "World's Biggest hoaxes, Hoodwinks and Bamboozles."

To be honest, it's a subset of cards, and it will include:
  • Bernie Madoff
  • Charles Ponzi (who invented the scam Madoff used)
  • The Runaway Bride
  • Idaho (what?)
  • The Turk
  • Enron
  • Anna Anderson
  • Ferdinand Waldo Demara
  • San Serriffe
  • D.B. Cooper
  • Spaghetti Trees
  • Victor Lustig
  • The War of the Worlds
  • George Parker
  • The Bathtub Hoax
  • The Cottingley Fairies
  • James Reavis
  • The Piltdown Man
  • The Cardiff Giant
  • Cold Fusion
According to Fortune:
The Topps 2009 Allen & Ginter release will include cards of some 260 baseball players along with cards of historic figures and "world champions" from realms outside baseball. This year's product, though, will also nod to Madoff's financial chicanery as part of a group of cards featuring the "world's biggest hoaxes, hoodwinks and bamboozles." Among the other do-badders in the subset are Charles Ponzi, The Runaway Bride, and Enron.

"These cards feature 20 perpetrators of some of the most notorious pranks, dubious claims, and outright frauds of the last 2 centuries," boasts a Topps sell-sheet for the collection.
If you're looking to burn one of these, it'll take some luck: the odds of finding a Madoff is one in 12 packs.

Moats Feared for Wife's Life During "Death Bed Traffic Stop Incident"

More information has arisen about Officer Robert Powell (shown), who detained a family after they ran a red light while trying to rush to a hospital to be at a relative's death bed.

While NFL RB Ryan Moats' wife Tamishia and her great aunt made it to Tamishia's mother's bedside in time, Ryan Moats did not.

Monday morning on Good Morning, America (GMA), the Moats were interviewed about their experience, and Ryan Moats said he was afraid for his wife, when he saw Powell's gun pointing at her:
"I really didn't realize what was going on at the time. Once I got out I realized it was pretty serious. I was afraid for her because, you know, he was pointing the gun at her."
Powell has apologized in a written statement, but not personally, to the Moats. Tamishia Moats said:
"It would be comforting if we heard an apology directly from him. But we definitely would accept his apology because, you know, he's a human being."
Powell is still on administrative leave, with many around the country calling for his resignation or firing.

Meanwhile, another allegation against Officer Powell surfaced over the weekend, ironically relating to another NFL player's wife.

ESPN reported that Maritza Thomas, wife of former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Zach Thomas, was handcuffed and spent approximately three hours in jail after Powell pulled her over for an illegal U-turn in July 2008.

The hits just keep on coming.

Watch a video report from ESPN including GMA footage:

Watch the dash-cam video from the Moats incident. Part one:

Part two:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thousands of Cane Toads Killed in "Toad Day Out"

At first glance, one might think that killing thousands of toads, and being gleeful about it, might be a bad thing. But in fact these are poisonous cane toads, which were introduced into Australia in 1935, and threaten many native species.

Townsville City Councilman Vern Veitch said:
"To see the look on the faces of the kids as we were handling and weighing the toads and then euthanizing them was just... the children really got into the character of the event."
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has supported the effort, as long as the toads are killed humanely.

The toads, which the rules stated must be captured alive and unharmed, were brought to collection points. Erroneously captured toads were released, but cane toads were were then killed, either by freezing or by being placed in plastic bags filled with carbon dioxide. Most of the remains are to be ground up into fertilizer for sugarcane farmers.

Toad Day Out organizer Lisa Ahrens said:
"It's just a circle of poetic justice! Seventy-five years later, they're a benefit to the cane farmer."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jury Awards $8.6 Million to Man Paralyzed After Crashing Into Wild Pigs

A motorcyclist who was paralyzed when he struck six wild pigs on a California state highway in 2003 has been awarded $8.6 million by a Monterey County jury.

Adam Rogers, 45, sued the California state Department of Transportation, charging that officials knew that wild pigs regularly crossed a section of Highway 1 just south of the Carmel River to feed at a nearby environmental restoration project. Despite knowing that the pigs were creating a hazard, officials did nothing to address the issue, he asserted.

Rogers' attorney, Larry Biegel said:
"This was a situation that they, the state, created (referring to the restoration project), and then once they created it and saw what was happening they did nothing to stop it."
The state argued that Rogers was under the influence at the time of the incident, and that the pigs were no more of a hazard than any other wild animals on other highways.

In fact, Rogers' BAC was .10 after the crash, and the state of California has a drunk driving limit of .08. However, the jury found that Rogers' alcohol use was not a factor in the accident.

Rogers, a former champion kick boxer, will likely never walk again, and suffers from memory gaps as a result of the massive head injuries suffered when he was thrown from his motorcycle.

Capping CO2 Will Take Away Plant Food: Shimkus

During a House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing earlier this week, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) was interviewing a global warming denier, Brit Lord Christopher Monckton about the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The two of them discussed the fact that plants need CO2 as part of the process of photosynthesis. Of course, the discussion they had seemed to imply that by trying to cap CO2 emissions, we would harm plants. What they fail to understand is that what is currently proposed is not to eliminate CO2, but to stabilize its levels in the atmosphere.
It’s plant food. ... So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? ... So all our good intentions could be for vain. In fact, we could be doing just the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying.
Actually, we should increase the use of CO2. If we used it up, we'd be in much better shape. What the obviously addled Shimkus meant is if we decrease the output of CO2, blah, blah.

This is an argument that's been used before. The reason it's been used before is it's very simplistic, and something that the pundits using it hope will fool the public.

In fact, sure, plants need CO2. But we are putting out far more CO2 than they can use. If we weren't, then CO2 levels wouldn't be rising, now would they? And even if we weren't, what the heck are we doing to all those tropical rain forests, which are a great big carbon sink, not to mention all the forests around the rest of the world?

Cutting them down will lead to an eventual imbalance, assuming you believe we currently have a balance. Which we don't. And if in fact we do stabilize the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, if we cut down more forests ... well, you get my drift. But at any rate, watch the video:

Chow Down at Oakdale's Testicle Festival

It's an annual event, and usually draws about 450, er, hardy souls. It's the Oakdale Testicle Festival, where diners chow down on, well, testicles.

Proceeds benefit the Oakdale Cowboy Museum and Oakdale's Rotary Club. Tickets are $50, or $65 at the door. The event is Monday night, at 6PM, at the FES Hall, 190 N. Lee Ave., Oakdale, CA.

The event used to be called the Calf Fry when it was a fundraiser for the town's Rotary Club. But in 2003 the group joined forces with the Cowboy Museum and the name was changed to the more colorful Testicle Festival.

The Festival's slogan is "You'll have a ball!!!" Seriously. For more information, call (209) 847-5163.

Watch a video from a prior festival:

Three Mile Island, Thirty Years Later

On March 28th, 1979, beginning at 4 AM, the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania suffered a partial core meltdown. The U.S. nuclear power industry has only recently begun to recover, based on concerns over global warming.

Ironically, the movie "The China Syndrome," which detailed a cover-up over a near accident at a nuclear power plant had recently opened. It couldn't have been worse timing (for the nuclear industry).

A China Syndrome event is a hypothetical event in which a reactor core melts down, and the molten reactor core breaches the barriers below them and flow downwards through the floor of the containment building, melting their way to China.

Specifically, Unit 2 (TMI‑2) experienced a failure in the secondary, non‑nuclear section of the plant. As the NRC's fact sheet on the incident describes:
The main feedwater pumps stopped running, caused by either a mechanical or electrical failure, which prevented the steam generators from removing heat. First the turbine, then the reactor automatically shut down. Immediately, the pressure in the primary system (the nuclear portion of the plant) began to increase. In order to prevent that pressure from becoming excessive, the pilot-operated relief valve (a valve located at the top of the pressurizer) opened. The valve should have closed when the pressure decreased by a certain amount, but it did not. Signals available to the operator failed to show that the valve was still open. As a result, cooling water poured out of the stuck-open valve and caused the core of the reactor to overheat.

As coolant flowed from the core through the pressurizer, the instruments available to reactor operators provided confusing information. There was no instrument that showed the level of coolant in the core. Instead, the operators judged the level of water in the core by the level in the pressurizer, and since it was high, they assumed that the core was properly covered with coolant. In addition, there was no clear signal that the pilot-operated relief valve was open. As a result, as alarms rang and warning lights flashed, the operators did not realize that the plant was experiencing a loss-of-coolant accident. They took a series of actions that made conditions worse by simply reducing the flow of coolant through the core.

Because adequate cooling was not available, the nuclear fuel overheated to the point at which the zirconium cladding (the long metal tubes which hold the nuclear fuel pellets) ruptured and the fuel pellets began to melt. It was later found that about one-half of the core melted during the early stages of the accident. Although the TMI-2 plant suffered a severe core meltdown, the most dangerous kind of nuclear power accident, it did not produce the worst-case consequences that reactor experts had long feared. In a worst-case accident, the melting of nuclear fuel would lead to a breach of the walls of the containment building and release massive quantities of radiation to the environment. But this did not occur as a result of the Three Mile Island accident.
Right, there were not massive quantities of radiation released. But there was some amount of radiation released.

Granted, this was no Chernobyl. But it did raise red flags about safety in the U.S. nuclear industry.

Now, with global warming an issue on many people's minds, the nuclear industry sees a change for a renaissance.

Twenty percent of America's electricity is generated by nuclear power. Contrast this with France, where over 70% is generated by nuclear energy.

Yet not all are happy with the development, global warming aside.

Dr. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said
"The industry is engaged in an all-out public relations campaign. They're painting nuclear energy as clean-air energy by talking about the fact that it doesn't release pollutants into the atmosphere.

"But the issue really is the potential for a catastrophic accident or a terrorist attack. And this is what the industry does not want to address head on.

"My concern is that as Three Mile Island retreats into the distance, people forget and complacency sets in. That is the biggest danger and the biggest threat to nuclear safety."

Friday, March 27, 2009

ShamWow Guy Now Cleaning Up Spills in Jail

This could be the end of the ShamWow Guy's career. Also known as Vince Shlomi, he's the ad pitchman who you've probably seen on TV on those ShamWow ads. He was also arrested last month.

According to TSG, Vince Shlomi, 44, was arrested last month on a felony battery charge. Apparently, he wasn't satisfied with her performance.

On February 7th, according to the arrest affidavit, the ShamWow Guy met Sasha Harris, 26, at a Miami Beach nightclub. They eventually returned to his room at the lavish Setai hotel where, according to Vince Shlomi, Harris "propositioned him."

Uh, huh. Well, Vince Shlomi paid her $1,000 for straight sex, but when he moved in for a kiss, she bit his tongue. Naturally, he then punched her several times until she released his tongue.

Makes sense, right?

While Shlomi and Harris were both arrested for felony aggravated battery, the D.A. decided not to file charges against either.

Man Gets Finger Stuck in Gas Tank Filler Pipe

Lesson learned: drop something in your gas filler pipe, leave it there.

Victor Harris, 25, of Saginaw, Michigan was pouring a fuel additive into his Lincoln Navigator tank when a paper lid from the additive fell into the gas tank. He tried fishing it out with his finger. Bad move.

His index finger became stuck.

That was at 5 AM.
"My hand started getting numb about 7 or 8. I started getting nervous."
Other customers of the 7-11 called the fire department, and after four hours, crews cut out a 4-foot section of the filler pipe.

Crews then took Harris to neighboring St. Mary's, where doctors pried his finger out of the pipe and gave him two stitches.

He hasn't fixed his Navigator yet. He said:
"It's probably going to cost me a little."

Oops! CNBC's Open Mike Picks Up "Bullsh*t" Remark During Obama Speech

The perils of live TV and an open mike. During President Barack Obama's virtual Town Hall on Thursday, CNBC appears to have inadvertently aired commentary from an unhappy attendee, or perhaps an unhappy anchor --- "bullsh*t."

Obama was delivering remarks about job training and infrastructure.
"But it's a matter of making the investment in infrastructure and also then training the workers to be able get those jobs and that's where we're going to be focused on, that's where the job growth is going to occur. One last point I want to make and I know I'm not supposed to talk this long."
A female voice cuts in and says, "bullsh*t."

CNBC cut to its anchors, one of which sounds a little amused (you can hear a slight chuckle).

Most likely something was going on in the studio and it was picked up on a mike. Hey, at least it wasn't Jim Cramer!

Watch the clip:

Economic Crisis Due to "White People with Blue Eyes": Lula da Silva

Speaking in Brasília at a joint press conference with U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown, Brazil's president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blamed the global economic crisis on white people.

Specifically, he blamed the crisis on "white people with blue eyes." In reality, he probably wanted to point the blame of this crisis on wealthy Americans and Europeans (probably more toward Americans). Lula da Silva said:
“This crisis was caused by the irrational behaviour of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything and now demonstrate that they know nothing. I do not know any black or indigenous bankers so I can only say [it is wrong] that this part of mankind which is victimized more than any other should pay for the crisis."
I'm sure Gordon Brown blanched at that comment. His response:
“I’m not going to attribute blame to any individuals."
Lula da Silva also spoke against protectionism as a response to the global economic crisis.
“I compare protectionism to a drug. Why do people use drugs? Because they are in crisis and they think the drug will help them. But its effects pass quickly.”
There is a G-20 summit in London, scheduled for next week.

Family Unknowingly Lives Under "Spectre" of 60-Foot Phallus

A U.K. family was unknowingly the victim of a prank by one of its sons, who painted a giant 60-foot phallus on their new flat roof right after it was completed, hoping it would show up on Google Earth.

Rory McInnes had just finished watching a documentary on Google Earth, and got the idea to reproduce the "feature" of the Cerne Abbas Giant, an 80-foot figure of a naked man which is carved into the side of a chalk hill in Dorset in SW England. The Giant is believed to be an Iron Age fertility symbol.

So he went up to the roof and spent 30 minutes on the work, which apparently lay unnoticed until a helicopter pilot saw it and took photos.

When contacted by The Sun, father Andy McInnes reacted incredulously:
"It's an April Fool's joke, right? There's no way there?s a 60-foot phallus on top of my house."
Rory is spending a year traveling between finishing school and college, and when his father caught up with him, the 18-year-old reportedly said: "Oh, you?ve found it then!"

His parents were not amused.

Clare McInnes said:
"We don’t want any more children, so the idea of sleeping under a giant fertility symbol is rather worrying."
Andy McInnes added:
“We don’t want to lie in bed at night and hear couples at it above us. When Rory gets home he will be given a scrubbing brush and white spirit and he can go and scrub it off.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Death Doesn't Wait as Police Officer Tickets Family Rushing to Their Dying Mother's Bedside

A few days ago I wrote about a deputy who wrote up an expired tag ticket while a man's mother lay dying in the back seat of his car. Here's another case of an overzealous, and perhaps power-mad, cop.

This is becoming an uncomfortable trend.

Officer Robert Powell (shown) has been placed on paid administrative leave in connection with an incident last week. He stopped Houston Texans RB Ryan Moats for running a red light near Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. Here's the thing: Moats and his wife were rushing to the hospital in an attempt to get there before his mother-in-law, Jonetta Collinsworth, 45, died of breast cancer that had spread throughout her body.

According to the report, and made very clear by dash-cam footage, Powell berated the Moats, threatened him with arrest, and even pulled his gun.

In fact, Officer Powell told Ryan Moats:
"I can screw you over. I’d rather not do that."
Well, by delaying them for 13 minutes, he effectively did screw them over, as they did not make it to the bedside in time.

Dallas Police chief David Kunkle said:
"His behavior in my opinion, did not exhibit the common sense, discretion, the compassion that we expect our officers to exhibit.

"When we in the command staff reviewed the tapes. we were embarrassed, disappointed --- it’s hard to find the right words and still be professional in my role as a police chief."
At the same time, it's interesting that Ryan Moats didn't exhibit entitlement over his NFL status and use that as a bargaining chip. Kunkle added:

The chief also praised Moats and his family for how they handled the officer’s behavior.
"They exercised extraordinary patience, restraint, dealing with the behavior of our officer. At no time did Mr. Moats identify himself as an NFL football player or expect any kind of special consideration. He handled himself very, very well."
Here's what happened, as per the dash-cam video, embedded below. Excerpted from the Dallas Morning News (commentary added by myself):
Tamishia, 27, was the first out. Powell drew his gun and yelled at her to get back in.

“Get in there!” he yelled. “Let me see your hands!”

“My mom is dying,” she explained to him.

Powell was undeterred.

“I saw in his eyes that he really did not care,” Tamishia Moats said. “Honestly, I don’t think I cared that he had a gun pointed at me. My train of thought is that I’m going to see my mom in the hospital before she dies.”

Tamishia Moats and her great-aunt ignored the officer and headed into the hospital.

“It was almost like a movie,” she said, “It felt like we had robbed a bank or something.”

Ryan Moats, who stayed behind with the father of the dying woman, said Powell also pointed his gun at him. He said he put his hands on the car because he was afraid that he might get shot.

“I put my hands on the car so he couldn’t say I reached for something,” Ryan said. “He didn’t ask me to put my hands on the car. I just did it to try to protect myself. I was pleading with him.”

He tried to explain the situation to the officer.

“I waited until no traffic was coming,” Moats told Powell, explaining his passage through the red light. “I got seconds before she’s gone, man.”

Powell demanded his license and proof of insurance. Moats produced his license but said he didn’t know where the insurance paperwork was.

“Just give me a ticket or whatever,” he said, beginning to sound exasperated and a little argumentative.

“Shut your mouth,” Powell told him. “You can cooperate and settle down, or I can just take you to jail for running a red light.”

There was more back and forth.

“If you’re going to give me a ticket, give me a ticket.”

“Your attitude says that you need one.”

“All I’m asking you is just to hurry up.”

Powell began a lecture. (nice, he lectures while a man's mother-in-law dies)

“If you want to keep this going, I’ll just put you in handcuffs,” the officer said, “and I’ll take you to jail for running a red light.”

Powell made several more points, including that the SUV was illegally parked. Moats replied “Yes sir” to each.

“Understand what I can do,” Powell concluded. “I can tow your truck. I can charge you with fleeing. I can make your night very difficult.”

“I understand,” Moats responded. “I hope you’ll be a great person and not do that.”

Hospital security guards arrived and told Powell that the Moatses’ relative really was upstairs dying.

Powell spent several minutes inside his squad car, in part to check Moats for outstanding warrants. He found none.

Another hospital staffer came out and spoke with a Plano police officer who had arrived.

“Hey, that’s the nurse,” the Plano officer told Powell. “She said that the mom’s dying right now, and she’s wanting to know if they can get him up there before she dies.” (this other officer apparently understood what Powell did not)

“All right,” Powell replied. “I’m almost done.”

As Moats signed the ticket, Powell continued his lecture.

“Attitude’s everything,” he said. “All you had to do is stop, tell me what was going on. More than likely, I would have let you go.”
Whoa. Speaking of attitude. It seems Officer Powell needs an attitude adjustment. It has been suggested that the stop and Powell's actions may have been a result of racism (the Moatses are black and Powell is white).

Ryan Moats said:
“I think he should lose his job.”
Assistant Chief Floyd Simpson said:
“When people are in distress, we should come to the rescue. We shouldn’t further their distress.”
Watch the dash-cam video. Part one:

Part two:

Sex with a Vacuum = 90-Day Prison Sentence

Just to be clear, Jason Leroy Savage, 29, was sentenced for public sex with a car wash vacuum. What you do with your own home appliances is still up to you.

Michigan resident Savage was sentenced Wednesday at Saginaw County Circuit Court. He must also undergo drug testing. Last month he pleaded no contest to indecent exposure.

Savage was caught with his pants down (literally) last October when someone reported "suspicious" behavior at a Thomas Township car wash.

Not only that, the story was picked up by both Jay Leno and David Letterman, which caused Saginaw County Circuit Judge Fred L. Borchard to say that Savage had humiliated the community. Borchard said:
"I believe you owe the community an apology for what you've done."
Meanwhile, Savage said:
"It's been horrible. I've been keeping my nose clean and staying out of trouble."
Problem is, it wasn't really his nose that was the issue.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stink-Free Underwear Tried Out on ISS

Stinky underwear. Where could the worst possible place for something like that be? Someplace enclosed, where you can't just open a door to air things out. Someplace like the --- International Space Station. And thus, Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to live on the International Space Station, is testing J-ware.

The clothes were created by textile experts at Japan Women's University in Tokyo. Much as you might think you are good at packing light, astronauts have to be better: anything carried into orbit is expensive and reduces additional payload. Since the ISS has no laundry, having clothes that stay fresh for weeks at a time could result in significant savings.

J-ware is designed to kill germs, absorb water, insulate the body and dry quickly. They were developed by researcher Yoshiko Taya.

If things work out, Japan will offer the clothes to NASA. They are even planning a commercial clothing line.

Koji Yanagawa, an official with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency said:
"He can wear his trunks (underwear) more than a week."
At the same time, Astronaut Wakata thinks the underwear is working well.
"Nobody has complained, so I think it's so far, so good."

Spider-Man Saves Boy (Really!)

A Bangkok fireman rescued an autistic eight-year-old boy who had climbed on to a third-floor window ledge by dressing up as his favorite comic book super-hero, Spider-Man.

The unnamed boy had begun crying and climbed out a third-story classroom window. It was his first day at a special needs school.

Teachers were unable to coax the boy back in, but his mother remarked about his love for comic book super-heroes, and fireman Somchai Yoosabai rushed back to his fire station, where he kept a Spider-Man costume in his locker.

Before you ask, he uses the costume to "liven up" fire drills.

Somchai told local television:
"I told him Spider-Man is here to rescue you, no monsters are going to attack you and I told him to walk slowly towards me as running could be dangerous."
Upon spying the Amazing Spider-Man, the boy smiled and leaped (more or less) into the super-hero's arms. With great power comes great responsibility, or in this case, with a lucky break comes a life saved.

"Boob" Uses ID Theft to Get Breast Implants

I suppose that Yvonne Pampellone figured once they're in, they're in for good. She wanted breast implants so badly she decided ID theft was the best idea.

Pampellone started a line of credit in someone else's name last September. She then had the breast implant procedures performed at the Pacific Center For Plastic Surgery. The procedures cost more than $12,000.

The SoCal woman faces charges of commercial burglary, grand theft and ID theft. Her defense attorney Paul Wallin said the facts will eventually show his client is not guilty.

One thing for sure: the evidence certain shows she had some implants done. Of course, some might say we are blowing this issue way out of proportion.

Hedge Fund Managers Still Raking in Cash: Alpha Magazine's Annual Ranking

Recession? Fogetaboutit! Don't talk of recession to hedge fund managers. Despite the economic downturn, there are plenty of millionaires, and billionaires, on the latest ranking of the top 25, according to Alpha Magazine.

While in the past, many may not have cared so much about how much hedge fund managers make, in the wake of the recession more are interested in how these mavens, many of whom may be blamed for our current situation, are doing, cash-wise. Quite well, says the Alpha Magazine report.

In fact, according to Alpha Magazine, the world's 25 top-earning hedge fund managers raked in a staggering $11.6 billion last year, according to the annual ranking released Wednesday.

Worse, or better, depending on how you look at it, the press release indicates that 2008 is the third-best year on record since Alpha Magazine began compiling its numbers.

A dozen managers appear on the Alpha Magazine ranking for the very first time, with a record nine European managers.

According to Alpha Magazine, it calculates hedge fund manager earnings using the managers' shares of their firm’s performance and management fees, as well as gains on their own capital.

Here is the list of Alpha Magazine's top 25 moneymakers for 2008, although only the top 10 currently have income figures attached to their names. Alpha Magazine plans to release information for the remaining managers on Thursday.

1. James Simons Renaissance Technologies Corp. - $2.5 billion
2. John Paulson Paulson & Co. - $2 billion
3. John Arnold Centaurus Energy - $1.5 billion
4. George Soros Soros Fund Management - $1.1 billion
5. Raymond Dalio Bridgewater Associates - $780 million
6. Bruce Kovner Caxton Associates - $640 million
7. David Shaw D.E. Shaw & Co. - $275 million
8. Stanley Druckenmiller Duquesne Capital Management - $260 million
9. (tie) David Harding Winton Capital Management - $250 million
9. (tie) Alan Howard Brevan Howard Asset Management - $250 million
9. (tie) John Taylor Jr. FX Concepts - $250 million

12. James Chanos Kynikos Associates
13. Michael Platt BlueCrest Capital Management
14. Roy Niederhoffer R.G. Niederhoffer Capital Management
15. John Horseman Horseman Capital Management
16. Paul Touradji Touradji Capital Management
17. Henry Laufer Renaissance Technologies Corp.
18. Kenneth Tropin Graham Capital Management
19. Pierre Andurand BlueGold Capital Management
19. (tie) Dennis Crema BlueGold Capital Management
19. (tie) Christopher Rokos Brevan Howard Asset Management
22. (tie) Christian Baha Superfund
22. (tie) Christian Levett Clive Capital
24. William Dunn Dunn Capital Management
25. Andrew Hoine Paulson & Co.

Hedge funds are private investment funds that are targeted mainly at wealthy individuals and institutions. Unlike mutual funds, which can only bet on stocks going "up" and dividends, they use a variety of investment methods, ranging from short selling to currencies and mergers to traditional stock picks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Polly Want a Lifesaver Award?

In Denver, Willie has won an award for saving a little girl choking on her breakfast, by warning a baby sitter. Willie, however, is a Quaker parrot.

Willie's owner, Megan Howard, was baby-sitting for a toddler Hannah. Howard left the room and the little girl started to choke on her breakfast.

Willie repeatedly yelled "Mama, baby," flapping his wings, and Howard, hearing the ruckus, returned in time to give the girl the Heimlich maneuver, saving her life.

Hannah's mother, Samantha Kuusk, said:
"The part where she turned blue is always when my heart drops no matter how many times I've heard it. My heart drops in my stomach and I get all teary eyed."
It's a great story, but let's be honest: in America, the litigious country that we are, if Howard hadn't been warned by Willie, she probably would be facing a lawsuit right now. So Willie saved his owner a ton of money, and kept a lawyer from making a ton as well.

Willie, a Quaker parrot, was given the local Red Cross chapter's Animal Lifesaver Award last Friday.

Deputy Accused of Writing Ticket While Man's Mother Dies in Car

A Tennessee man who was rushing his 83 year-old mother to a hospital says a sheriff's deputy stopped him for an expired tag and wrote up the ticket while the man's mother died in the back seat.

Wayne Ables said he was stopped on March 12, 2009. Ables said his mother Vernice Ables suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stopped breathing during the traffic stop.

He asked the unidentified deputy to follow him to Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett, less than a mile away, and write the ticket there. The deputy refused, instead calling an ambulance while at the same time checking Ables' license and insurance.

The incident is under investigation, according to reports.

Watch a video report on the incident:

Blagojevich to Host Chicago Radio Show on Wednesday

You might recall Rod Blagojevich's media frenzy just prior to his impeachment, when he hit the talk show circuit to plead his case. Well, on Wednesday he is hitting just one radio talk show, hosting the "Don Wade & Roma Morning Show" on Chicago's WLS-AM for two hours, 7 AM to 9 AM CDT.

Blagojevich has been a guest on the radio show previously, and will take calls from listeners, tell stories and talk with guests. Interestingly, WLS-AM had offered him a weekend show in January if he resigned. He didn't, and he didn't get the show.

The Don Wade and Roma Show is billed by the station as "the most positive, optimistic radio show in the universe ..." In case you want to call in and talk to Rod Blagojevich, the call-in number is (312) 591-8900.

For those outside the area, you can listen online to Rod Blagojevich's radio stint via the link in the first paragraph. Sorry, it doesn't appear they have an (800) number, however.

Most people might lay low. But Blagojevich's publicist, Glenn Selig said he didn't think the radio show hosting gig would hurt his employer:
"He's going to be the interviewer in this capacity and have a good time on the radio. This is an opportunity for him to get into some dialogues with people, have a good time, have fun and sort of be out there."
He's definitely "out there."

Komodo Dragons Maul Fruit-picker to Death

Yes, this sounds like something out of a movie (and to be honest, there have been horror movies made about this sort of thing, one even starring Jill Hennessy of Law & Order and Crossing Jordan). But it's reality. A fruit picker in Indonesia was mauled to death when he fell from a tree into the waiting jaws of two Komodo dragons lying below.

The Komodo dragon is a species of the monitor lizard family that inhabits the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang in Indonesia. It is the largest living species of lizard, growing to an average length of 2 to 3 metres (6.6 to 9.8 ft) and weighing around 70 kilograms (150 lb).

31-year-old Muhamad Anwar was attacked on Komodo, one of the islands listed above. He was, in fact, trespassing, in search of fruit. Bleeding badly from bites to his hands, body, legs and neck, he died at a clinic on the neighboring island of Flores soon after.

According to reports, the first attack in 30 years occurred in 2007. Since then attacks have become more common.

Another risk from a Komodo dragon attack is the fact that its saliva contains a host of bacteria, as many as 50 different strains, so infection is a risk.

Watch a video on Komodo dragons from National Geographic below:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Space Station Colbert? Or At Least a Module? Stephen Colbert Wins Online Naming Contest

The wild popularity of Stephen Colbert, and the fact that he can pretty much get his minions to vote online for just about anyrhing, should tell people: if he wants it, he's going to get it. First a bridge in Hungary, and now a module in the International Space Station, as Stephen Colbert won an online contest to name the new Node 3 space module after him.

However, NASA doesn't necessarily have to name the module after Colbert. According to NASA, they reserve the right to choose another name, although they will give proper due to the voting results.

The second place vote-getter was Serenity, trailing by 40,000 votes.

Watch Colbert try to nail down William Gerstenmaier to commit to naming the space module "Colbert," if he wins the online vote.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Space Module: Colbert - William Gerstenmaier
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Israeli Soldiers Wearing Shirts Joking About Killing Arabs

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has come under fire as revelations rose on Monday that IDF soldiers have been wearing t-shirt with slogans and images such as a pregnant woman with a bullseye on her and the slogan "1 Shot, 2 Kills."

Other such slogans, which I would hope most, if not all, would find offensive, include:
  • A child in a rifle sight: "The smaller they are, the harder it is"
  • A picture of a dead Palestinian baby with his mother weeping beside him: "Better use Durex"
  • A drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises: "Bet you got raped!"
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it:
"reflects the brutal mentality among the Zionist soldiers and the Zionist society."
Meanwhile, the IDF released a statement:
"This type of humor is unacceptable. Commanders are instructed to use disciplinary tools against those who produce T-shirts of this type."
Here's a video report:

Build-It-Yourself Ikea Car or April Fool's Day Joke?

Look, the stuff at Ikea is great, but I hate assembling anything. It's bad enough when I have to assemble furniture, and find some of the parts dented, or missing (I've had both). So I have to admit that I hope this is #2 of the above (an April Fool's Day Joke) rather than an actual product.

Though I could be wrong.

My French leaves a lot to be desired, but the tagline "la voiture selon ikea" emblazoned on the side of that hidden "thing" in the picture translates to "the car by Ikea."

Also, "Decouvrez LEKO le 31 mars dans le cadre de la semaine du developpment durable" means "Discover LEKO March 31 as part of the week for Sustainable Development."

Does that mean it's made mostly of particle board? It'll save a lot of weight.

Anyway, the countdown timer on the site leads one to believe it'll be unveiled on March 31st or April 1st (I'm not doing the time math). We'll see what we get.

How to Blow a Job Offer in 140 Characters or Less

Only a few weeks after a teenager lost a job because of a Facebook update saying her job was boring, a person with "foot in the mouth" disease may have tweeted his way out of a job offer. His update on Twitter:
Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.
A fat paycheck, but work he hates and a rotten commute, eh? He may not get a chance to decide if he wants the offer, as Tim Levad at Cisco tweeted back:
Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.
Oops. It just goes to show you that you need to be careful what you publicly broadcast on Twitter or Facebook (or MySpace, or ...).

theconnor has since protected his status updates, but it's waaaaaay too late. Someone even spent the time and effort to create a site mocking him, CiscoFatty.com.

However, theconnor has put up a blog of his own, at which the first post addresses this whole issue. His post sounds like he may have turned down the Cisco job (his first paragraph says he turned down some job) before even sending that tweet, and that the tweet was meant for his followers, no one else.

Of course, that doesn't excuse the flippancy, but as he says:
Should Tim Levad have backed off? Not necessarily; it was crass of me to say what I did and I take full responsibility for the stupidity of my action. Instead of blaming him, let me use him to illustrate what I have learned: Tim Levad and @timmylevad are two different people. @timmylevad is defined entirely by the number of people listening to it. But whatever @timmylevad says is backed up by the subtle persuasive knowledge that somewhere back there, Tim Levad the person is pulling the strings.
Twitter isn't something I use (except for this site). Facebook on the other hand, I do. Which leads to other questions. A bigwig at a new company I work for sends me an invite. I really don't want him watching my updates. But if I don't accept I may upset him. So I accepted and limited his access to my status updates.

It's something to worry about in these days of the Web. Watch what you post, or you may be unemployed, or worse.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Too Busy to Pray? Let This Website Pray for You

Here's a new idea. Too busy to pray for yourself? A website "Information Age Prayer," is set to relieve from that "onerous" task.
Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a computer with text-to-speech capability to incant your prayers each day. It gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said even if you wake up late, or forget.

We use state of the art text to speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying. Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen.
Information Age Prayer is careful to point out this service should be used as a supplemental prayer, not to replace your own prayers (particularly with respect to the Muslim Salat.

Fees depend on religion and type of prayer. For example, for Catholics, The Lords Prayer (Daily) is $3.95 a month. A Hail Mary is $0.07 each.

Muslim prayers are voiced in English, with the computer speakers facing Mecca.

I am not making this up.

An interesting question asked in their FAQ:
Are prayers blasphemous when voiced by a computer?

We recommend you contact your local clergy for a personal answer, however we think that Information Age Prayer is a new and exciting way to connect with God.
As far as site revenue goes, the site states that it transfers 10% of revenues to charity. But it fails to specify which ones, just that they are 501(c)(3) charities.

Tragic Oakland PD Deaths Cheered, Called "Payback for Oscar Grant"

Four Oakland police officers have been slain, and the perpetrator killed, in what has been called the worst day in the history of the Oakland, California Police Department. Despite the fact that these men had families and put their lives on the line every day, it has been reported that onlookers cheered the incident. Why, and why has mainstream media not picked up on this?

So far I have managed to find it as a paragraph in the PS-N (above), and mentioned in comments at the Bay Area's SF Chronicle website by witnesses of the incident. Nothing bigger than that.

The reason for the cheering: Oscar Grant. While an incident involving BART police, it occurred in an Oakland BART station. Oscar Grant, 22, was fatally shot on New Year's Day by a BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle. He has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.

It is believed his defense will rest on him believing he was going for his Taser. It should be noted that BART police received their tasers only a few weeks before the incident, and that incidents of taser / gun mix-ups have happened before.

Even the Christian Science Monitor notes a look of surprise on Mehserle's face after the shooting of Oscar Grant.

Whether you believe that or not, the fact of the matter is, the two incidents are unrelated. Yet, a crowd of 20 onlookers cheered at the scene of the first shootings (there were two separate crime scenes). They shouted "Payback for Oscar (Grant)."

I have also found comments on news stories on the web, similarly cheering. At the PS-N, one said:
This is the best news I've heard in a long time. That's what the PIGS get. Rest In Peace Oscar Grant and all other victims of Police Terrorism
Is this what we humans have become? These officers had nothing to do with Oscar Grant. And the first set of officers, John Hege, 41, and Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40 pulled over Lovelle Mixon for a traffic stop on Saturday, at which time he shot them.

These are innocents in the Oscar Grant case. May Hege, Dunakin, Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, rest in peace.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Close Shave: Brazilan Waxes Will Not Be Banned in NJ After All

It was a close shave, but New Jersey, after due consideration, has decided not to ban Brazilian bikini waxes.

The ban was being considered by the state's Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling because two women had been hospitalized in the last year for infections following a Brazilian bikini wax. Let's not forget the lawsuit by one of the two women, as well.

For those who don't know, a Brazilian wax could be thought of as using the same technique as a bikini wax, but removing everything, or sometimes just a thin strip of hair. You can imagine the pain, but people still pay $50 to $60 for the treatment (both men and women).

State Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman said in a letter to Board of Cosmetology and HairstylingPresident Ronald Jerome Brown:
"Many commentators have noted that the procedure could be safely performed. I, therefore, believe that there are alternative means to address any public health issues identified by the board."
Szuchman added that the board needed to review training and establish protocols and safeguards to provide the service.
"In the meantime, while this review is ongoing, enforcement of this prohibition should not be pursued."
Salon owners had said that customers would simply cross state lines to get a Brazilian bikini wax out-of-state.

I suppose one could say New Jersey rethought what could have been a really bad pubic relations issue, and by doing so kept things from getting really hairy.

Teenager Hospitalized After Branding

Well, this just emphasizes the fact that teenagers, despite what they may tell you, don't know much about the world and about what might be a good or bad idea. A Ukiah teenager has been hospitalized after being branded. The kicker: he asked his friends to do it to him.

According to Mendocino County Sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb, the unnamed 17-year-old, a senior at Ukiah High School, had asked his friends to burn a metal star into his chest, feeling that it would show pride at being from Northern California.

Look, tattoos are bad enough, as they are hard to remove, but a brand? That would be there forever. I can only guess the branding iron idea was cheaper (free) as opposed to a tattoo.

On Wednesday, students gathered in the parking lot of a shopping center during their lunch break, heated the branding iron with a butane torch and pressed it into the teen's chest.

Unfortunately, they apparently went a little too deep, and immediately (?) recognized the issue, and took the boy to the hospital. Authorities say the students who branded the boy may face prosecution.

I'm not sure why. For being as stupid as the kid?

"Hakani" Infanticide Video Decried as "Fake"

A video, "Hakani," which depicts scenes of Indians in an isolated Amazon forest village digging graves and burying children alive has been labeled as "fake" by London-based Survival International, a group which fights for tribal rights said Thursday.

The video was made with the help of U.S. missionaries. It has been watched more than 350,000 times on YouTube. The video has its own site, Hakaki.org, which states:
This is the story of Hakani – whose name means "smile" – one of hundreds of children who are targeted for death each year amongst Brazil's 200 plus indigenous tribes. Physical or mental handicaps, being born a twin or triplet or being born out of wedlock – all are considered valid reasons for taking a child's life.

A growing number of indigenous people are rising up to fight this practice. But when they seek help from the government, they are told that their children are not protected by Brazilian or international law, and that preserving culture is more important than saving individual lives.
In a statement, Survival called the video "fundamentalist," and argued the film is faked, that the earth covering the children’s faces is ‘actually chocolate cake’, and that the film’s claim that infanticide among Brazilian Indians is widespread is false. Survival’s director, Stephen Corry said:
"People are being taught to hate Indians, even wish them dead. Look at the comments on the Youtube site, things like, ‘So get rid of these native tribes. They suck’, and, ‘Those amazon mother f***ers burrying (sic) little kids, kill them all.’

"The film focuses on what they claim happens routinely in Indian communities, but it doesn’t. Amazonian infanticide is rare. When it does happen ... it is the mother’s decision and isn’t taken lightly. It’s made privately and secretly and is often thought shameful, certainly tragic."
In fact, the film is acknowledged by its creators, Youth with a Mission as fictional, a docudrama, aimed at drawing attention to what he said was a serious problem. Yet the YouTube posting doesn't mention that the film is fictional.

Meanwhile, Surival Internation says the film is part of the missionaries' campaign to pressure Brazil to pass a controversial bill, known as "Muwaji's law," which citizens to report anything they feel is "harmful traditional practice" to the authorities.

Watch the "Hakani" video. Warning: indigenous nudity and disturbing imagery.

Airliner Brushes Tail Against Runway on Takeoff; Remind Me to Fly Shorter Planes

An Emirates Airbus A340 carrying more than 225 people slammed its tail into the runway as it took off from an Australia airport, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing, officials said Saturday. Interestingly, it seems that length of airplane makes incidents like this more likely.

The impact of the tail sent smoke into the cabin. Passengers were unhurt, but frightened by the impact, which occurred when the flight took off from the southern city of Melbourne at about 10:30 PM Friday, bound for Dubai.

The aircraft returned to the airport and landed safely after flying over the ocean and dumping fuel.

Passenger Catherine Edmunds said:
"We did land successfully, thankfully, and the plane was surrounded by paramedics and fire engines. It was terrifying. I'd hate to go through it again."
Thinking about the way a plane takes off, it is obvious that if it lifted its nose too steeply, such a brush against the runway is possible. One might think there could be only one explanation, however: pilot error.

But according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, several factors can come into account, including the above angle of takeoff, such as weather conditions and loading issues. The ATSB also made it sound like it wasn't that unusual.
"It is a hazard, particularly on the longer aircraft."
Remind me to choose shorter aircraft.

Friday, March 20, 2009

CNBC: Wall Street Companies Can't "Be Run Well" by Those Making Under $250K

As some have noted, CNBC has been a near-cheerleader of Wall Street these past few years, only changing its tune when the s*** hits the fan. In an interview Friday morning with Sen. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Mark Haines made a comment that most of us would find objectionable.
HAINES: Let’s get back to what I regard at any rate as the fundamental issue here. I know it’s politically unpopular, politically incorrect. I know it goes against all of the populist indignation that’s out there right now. But you can’t really, it seems to me, expect that these Wall Street companies are going to be run well by a bunch of people who don’t make more than $250,000.
In point of fact they were discussing the bill that will attempt to slap a tax of 90% on bonuses paid to those making over $250K if their companies have received $5 billion or more in bailout funds.

Those people making over $250K aren't necessarily running the company, and let's be honest, the people currently in charge of Wall Street firms, and even some who are no longer in charge of Wall Street firms are the ones who got us into this mess.

So if people making above $250K can't do it, and people making below $250K can't either, that means no one can. Except perhaps Mark Haines.

Watch the video:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

When $53,000 a Week Just Isn't Enough

$53,000 is more than the median amount a U.S. worker takes home for an entire year according to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, yet a 36-year-old Swedish countess divorcing a former CEO says her weekly living expenses exceed that amount.

The couple married in 2002, and now both say the other had an extramarital affair, causing the split. Marie Douglas-David is a former investment banker (and, in this recession, we know an investment banker isn't going to find work). She says she has no income and to up the ante in terms of their divorce settlement so she can maintain her $53,800 a week lifestyle.

George David stepped down last year as chief executive at Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. but is still chairman of the board and has an estimated net worth of $329 million.

The marriage was already in trouble by 2004, but somehow they managed to get a post- (not pre) nuptial agreement signed in October 2005 that would give Douglas-David $43 million if they divorce.

Douglas-David wants that agreement invalidated. She has filed court papers showing she has more than $53,800 in weekly expenses, which include:
  • a Park Avenue apartment and three residences in Sweden
  • $700 for limousine service
  • $4,500 for clothes
  • $1,000 for hair and skin treatments
  • $1,500 for restaurants and entertainment
  • $8,000 for travel (weekly!)
We can see why George David had an affair. If it takes $1,000 to keep her presentable now, think about when she hits 50! On the other hand, poor Douglas-David could use up that cash in 16 years at this rate! Woe!

Douglas-David accuses her husband of coercion, that he forced her to sign the post-nup by preying upon her fears. She wants $100 million in cash and stock, plus $130,000 a month in alimony.

Realistically, I have no sympathy for either of these people.

New Jersey Weighs "Brazilian Wax" Ban

For those who don't know, a Brazilian wax could be thought of as using the same technique as a bikini wax, but removing everything, or sometimes just a thin strip of hair. You can imagine the pain, but how about the lawsuits?

New Jersey is considering a ban on Brazilian waxes after two women were hospitalized for infections. One of the women has filed a lawsuit. Officials say genital waxing has always been illegal in NJ, just not enforced.

Harriet Phillips of Willingboro, NJ said:
"Just because two people complained the whole state has to suffer?"
Wait, from what I heard it's those who get the Brazilian wax that really suffer.

The New Jersey state Board of Cosmetology meets next on April 14 and will decide whether to move forward with banning Brazilian waxes, thus called because they were popularized in Brazil for thong bikini wear.

A spa owner commented that she felt many customers would travel across state lines to get a Brazilian wax and some might even try to wax themselves.

Finally, Federal Raids on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Halt

While 13 states have passed laws allowing medical marijuana use, federal law still prohibits it. During the Bush administration raids were made and people arrested, even if they were in compliance with state law. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said such raids would stop, as long as those involved were in compliance with state law.

In other words, in this case, federal law will no longer trump state law.

Few specifics were stated, but he added that the Justice Department’s enforcement policy would still prosecute those who masquerade as medical dispensaries and "use medical marijuana laws as a shield."

In 1996, California passed Proposition 215, which allows any person with a doctor's recommendation can grow, use and transport medical marijuana.

I have long said that unless someone in the Supreme Court, Congress, or Executive Branch's family became sick to the point that they needed medical marijuana to live without excruciating pain or constant nausea, nothing would change. It is good to see I was wrong.

At least, for now.

However, there are about two dozen California medical marijuana cases pending in federal court, and it is unclear what will happen to those cases now. The right thing would be to dismiss them. We will see what happens.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dana Perino Defends AIG Execs as "Middle-Class Workers"

This is very strange, but what can you expect from someone who didn't even know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was? While most are heavily criticizing the AIG bonuses on both sides of the aisle, Dana Perino spent some time defending the payouts.

I'm going to cut to the chase and assume you all know about the AIG bonus situation, which you would unless you were under a rock during the last few days.

On C-Span’s Washington Journal on Sunday, Perino defended the bonuses, saying:
PERINO: And the people who are working there that are middle-class people, are expecting to get this bonus. If they do not get it, maybe they won’t be motivated enough to try to help the company turn around and getting the company to turn around and be more profitable is important for all of us.
Middle-class? She and John McCain must be discussing what middle-class is. After all, according to NY State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, 73 of the AIG execs will get $1 million or more.

A middle-class worker does not get that kind of bonus. Watch the video:

Madoff's Auditor, David Friehling, Turns Himself In

Although Bernie Madoff has asserted that he, and he alone, was responsible for the Ponzi scheme for which he faces up to 150 years in prison, "another one bites the dust." David Friehling, his auditor from 1991 - 2008, has been charged with aiding and abetting Madoff's $50 billion pyramid investment scheme.

David Friehling, of the firm Friehling & Horowitz, faces six counts of securities fraud, aiding and abetting investment-adviser fraud, and filing false audit reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He turned himself in Wednesday morning.

One has to wonder how an auditor would miss what was going on, after all.

If convicted, David Friehling, 49, could face a sentence of up to 105 years. Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin, in a prepared statement, said:
"Mr. Friehling is charged with crimes that represent a serious breach of the investing public's trust. Although Mr. Friehling is not charged with knowledge of the Madoff Ponzi scheme, he is charged with deceiving investors by falsely certifying that he audited the financial statements of Mr. Madoff's business. Mr. Friehling's deception helped foster the illusion that Mr. Madoff legitimately invested his clients' money."
Prosecutors said he made between $12,000 and $14,500 a month from 2004 to '07, which, upon doing the math, would amount to $144,000 to $174,000 a year.

David Friehling is the first person, beyond Bernie Madoff, to be charged in the Ponzi scheme case which took down the famous and wealthy, as well as the common man.

Friehling previously partnered at his firm with Jeremy Horowitz, his father-in-law, who died of cancer at the age of 80 last Thursday, ironically the same day that Madoff pleaded guilty.