Monday, August 31, 2009

Pastor Prays Barack Obama Dies of Brain Cancer

Pastor Steven Anderson of Arizona’s Faithful Word Baptist Church is the spiritual adviser to the man who carried an assault rifle outside a recent Phoenix health care rally with the President. Anderson hates Barack Obama, and wants him to die of brain cancer, he told MyFoxPhoenix.

Sunday at his church, Anderson told MyFoxPhoenix,
"I hope that God strikes Barack Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy and I hope it happens today. I will not take the law into my own hands. I will not take up any arms. It's a spiritual battle, spiritual warfare."
A number of protesters were outside his church on Sunday. Protester James Jones said:
"I find it incomprehensible that someone can say they believe in the message of Jesus and preach hate."
A good point, but look around the country and you will see a number of people, not just pastors, but people who consider themselves "good Christians," who preach hatred.

Oh, and by the way, since Christianity is supposed to be about the New Testament, why the vengeful God? Isn't that out of the Old Testament?

Protester Bill Demski said:
"A pastor, a man of the cloth, doesn't condone assassinating people. He's not a pastor, he's a pas-turd."

Anderson stands by his controversial sermon, entitled "Why I Hate Barack Obama." Video of the sermon has hit YouTube, in which he's shown explaining why he hates the President and praying for his death.

Watch the sermon:
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Former Miss California Carrie Prejean Files Suit for Religious Discrimination

According to the Miss California pageant, and its parent the Miss USA pageant, Carrie Prejean was "fired" because she was missing events that she was supposed to attend. Prejean disagrees, and her newly-filed lawsuit says it was all about religious discrimination.

Carrie Prejean filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The filing accuses Miss California USA officials Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler, as well as publicist Roger Neal of religious discrimination, defamation, public disclosure of private facts, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Carrie Prejean's attorney, Charles LiMandri, said in a news release, "We will make the case that her title was taken from her solely because of her support of traditional marriage."

Carrie Prejean made a big splash when, in the Miss USA pageant, she responded to a question by Perez Hilton about same-sex marriage by saying:
"Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there, but that's how I was raised, and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman."
Interestingly, Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe Organization, and thus Miss USA and Miss California, is not named in the suit.

In her suit, Carrie Prejean says the Miss California people "fabricated a fraudulent list of some 50 public appearances allegedly missed by Prejean which they released to the media in order to justify her termination as Miss California USA." Additionally, Prejean claims officials also tried to "set up Prejean to have her dismissed as Miss California USA by asking her to do a Playboy photo shoot for $120,000."
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Dugard Was Key Employee at Kidnapper's Business

Details continue to trickle out in the Jaycee Lee Dugard case, and we are beginning to see some of the details of the "relationship" between Dugard and her kidnappers, Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, and his wife, Nancy Garrido, 55. Not only was she his captive and the mother to two of his children, she was apparently a key player in Garrido's specialty printing business.

This obviously pretty much confirms that Jaycee Lee Dugard had Stockholm Syndrome. It would, in fact, have been surprising if she had not gotten the psychological disorder, which describes the behavior of kidnap victims who, over time, become sympathetic to their captors.

The term Stockholm Syndrome was coined after a 1973 hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. At the end of six days of captivity in a bank, several victims resisted rescue attempts, and even refused to testify against their captors, afterwards.

Customers knew the Jaycee Lee Dugard, 29, as "Allissa," the name she gave police last week when she was first interviewed. Garrido told them she was his grown daughter. They also knew here as efficient and professional.

Ben Daughdrill of Oakley was a customer of Garrido's who dealt with "Allissa."
"She was very professional, very polite, just like any other secretary or anyone you'd meet at a place of business. If I was requesting something, he'd say he'd have his daughter send it over. He'd say, 'I'll get Allissa right on that.'"
Antioch residents Cheyvonne Molino and her husband James used Garrido's printing firm, as well, and even worked with Jaycee Lee Dugard face-to-face. Cheyvonne Molino said:
"Phil couldn't design nothin'. Allissa was the one designing the cards, working the computer, emailing people. Allissa came out to see customers, delivering cards, talking to people."
While Jaycee Lee Dugard continues to heal, police continue to investigate possible ties between Garrido and a string of prostitute murders from the 1990's. Several of the victims were found close to Garrido's business.
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bipartisan Support for Vicki Kennedy as Ted's Successor

Prior to his death, Ted Kennedy said he hope the Massachusetts legislature would change the state's law so that the governor could appoint an interim replacement. On Sunday, two of his closest friends in the Senate, from both sides of the aisle, said that they thought his widow, Vicki, would make an excellent temporary replacement for him should the Massachusetts legislature make that change.

Many states allow the governor to appoint a successor, but when John Kerry ran for president in 2004, the Democratically-controlled state legislature changed the law to prevent then governor Mitt Romney (a Republican) from appointing someone from the GOP if Kerry won.

However, the special election now required can't be held until January. With health care reform coming up for a vote, it's a long time to wait for Massachusetts to have a second senator.

Appearing on CNN's State of the Union, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that Vicki Kennedy "ought to be considered" for her late husband Ted's Senate post.
"She is a very brilliant lawyer . She's a very solid individual. She certainly made a difference in Ted's life, let me tell you. And I have nothing but respect for her."
Sen. Chris Dodd, (D-CT), also offered his backing for a Vicki Kennedy appointment in a phone interview on the same broadcast.
"We talk frequently. Whatever Vicki wants to do, I'm in her corner. She knows that. She has expressed to me her own reluctance to do that. But she could change her mind. And if she did I'm for it. I think she'd be great, I think Orrin's right, she brings talent and ability to it... we can certainly use her in the Senate. But leave it up to her. She has a lot on her mind right now. And, frankly, I leave it up to her decision-making process."
Vicki Kennedy is 55, and as Hatch indicated, is a lawyer. To this point, however, she's indicated she has no interest in taking over Ted Kennedy's seat. That hasn't stopped pundits, as well as legislators from talking up the possibility. With bipartisan support, perhaps she should reconsider.
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Spoof: "500 Days of Sanford"

It's probably only a matter of time before South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is ousted from office, what with all the call for his resignation from the GOP as well as constituents. That doesn't mean people can't have some fun with it does it?

People have put together a video parody about Sanford, based on the movie "500 Days of Summer." Here's how they describe it:

500 days left of more layoffs
Of no new jobs.
Of less education funding.
Starring Mark Sanford as the Governor.
And the rest of us looking for a way out.
500 days of doing nothing on the economy.
Of wasting taxpayer money.
Of embarrassment.
500 days of more frustration.
Of gridlock.
Of Sanford.
500 days of Sanford.

Watch it:
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Jenna Bush Joins The Today Show

Jenna Bush, or rather, Jenna Bush Hager, is now a member of the Today Show. The daughter of former president George W. Bush, her twin sister is Barbara Pierce Bush. Both are 27.

It's an interesting hire. The only thing I can recall about Jenna Bush Hager and her twin is stories about them partying early on in Bush's first term.

Jenna Bush Hager has moved on to an actual career, however, and she's now a teacher in Baltimore. She will contribute stories to the Today Show once a month on issues like education. No politics, though.

Jim Bell, the Today Show's executive producer said he got the idea after seeing Jenna Bush Hager in two appearances on the show. She was on the program two years ago to promote her book "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope," about an HIV-infected single mother. She and her mother, Laura Bush, also co-hosted an hour of the show around the time their picture book, "Read All About It," with Denise Brunkus, came out.

While Bell felt Jenna Bush Hager was a natural, it's easy to get these sorts of jobs when your father was the president. It's not as though there aren't other teachers out there with better credentials than Hager. It just goes to show how much power, or former power, as well as connections, helps.

Her first story for the show is expected sometime next month.
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Jaycee Dugard's Story Just Beginning: Experts

Jaycee Lee Dugard's story has placed the city of Antioch, CA on the map, though not in a good way. Kidnapped at age 11 in South Lake Tahoe, found on Wednesday in Antioch, seeing her mother for the first time since June 1991 on Thursday, can she, now 29, ever have a normal life?

While imprisoned in the compound in the backyard of kidnapper Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy, 55, Jaycee Lee Dugard's story includes giving birth to two daughters, now aged 11 and 15, fathered by Garrido. Likely, she spent much of her life terrified and abused. Given thay, she is experts in child psychiatry and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) say her recovery is just beginning.

When asked about the Jaycee Dugard story, Paula Fass, a history professor at UC Berkeley and author of the book "Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America" said:
"Someone asked me if I think she'll ever have a normal life. I'm not sure 'normal' is the word. But let's hope she can still live decently and reconnect with that earlier life. The challenge will be to try to integrate these two parts of her life - before she was taken, and her children now - in a way that can be meaningful."
Despite the abuse, Jaycee Dugard's story almost certainly has a component of Stockholm syndrome, a condition in which captives become sympathetic to their captors. In fact, Dugard's stepfather, Carl Probyn, has told media outlets that Jaycee has expressed guilt for bonding with Phillip Garrido.

Stockholm Syndrome is not uncommon in these types of cases. She also probbably suffers from PTSD, as well.

Those issues, and the added complication of her children, could make recovery more difficult. In fact, while many are focusing on Jaycee Dugard's and recovery, let's not forget the children. Some compare their behavior at U.C. Berkeley, which eventually led to the capture of Phillip Garrido, to "Stepford Wives." They have reportedly never attended school or seen a doctor.

It is possible, according to experts, that the children will give Jaycee Dugard a focus for the future, and perhaps gave her a focus during her captivity as well, a reason to live, so to speak, and others to worry about besides herself.

One wonders, however, how long it will take before the media steps back so she and her family can pay attention to recovery, and not the press. We can only hope, also, that Hollywood will give her a chance to recover, before assailing her with offers for the "Jaycee Dugard Story" movie you know is coming.
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McCain: Torture Ineffective, Helped Terrorists Recruit

Just hours after former VP Dick Cheney defended the use of torture during an interview with Fox News Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), appearing on CBS' Face the Nation insisted that the use of torture on terrorism suspects violated international law, didn't work, and actually helped al Qaeda recruit additional members.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you-- do you agree with the vice president when he says this has kept the country safe all this time since this attack and it is because these interrogations worked and we found out information that helped us keep the country safe.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan. I think that these interrogations once publicized helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq who told-- who told me that.

I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed and so-- and I believe that information, according to the FBI and others, could have been gained through other methods.

BOB SCHIEFFER: When you say an al Qaeda operative told you it helped them. What-- what do you mean?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I was in-- Senator Lindsey Graham and I were in-- in Camp Bucca, the twenty-thousand-prisoner camp. We met with a former high-ranking member of al Qaeda. I said, "How did you succeed so well in Iraq after the initial invasions?" He said two things. One, the chaos that existed after the initial invasion, there was no order of any kind. Two, he said, Abu Ghraib pictures allowed me and helped me to recruit thousands of young men to our cause. Now that's al Qaeda.

And the second thing about it is, if you inflict enough pain on anyone, they'll tell you anything that to make the pain stop. So you not only get, perhaps, right information but you also get a lot of wrong information.

But the damage that it did to America's image in the world is something we're still on the way to repairing. This is an ideological struggle as well as a-- as a physical one, so.
McCain did add that he felt opening an investigation, as Attorney General Eric Holder is doing, into the past misdeeds was the wrong approach, that, as President Barack Obama said, we should move forward. However, as McCain said, "Well, the attorney general has a unique position in the cabinet, obviously. He can't be told what to do by the President of the United States."

Just in case anyone wants to blame Obama, he can't stop it, and has made it clear in the past he would prefer not to have these hearings Holder is planning.

Watch the video:

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Some First Date: Man Steals Woman's Car

Talk about a bad date. Amazingly, given the result, it wasn't even a blind date.

Police say Terrance Dejuan McCoy, 23 had dinner with a woman, 27, on April 24 at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale. The two met a week earlier at a Detroit casino (Greektown) and the woman knew McCoy only as "Chris."

It was their first date. After dinner, McCoy told the woman he had left his wallet in her car and asked for the keys. He then sped away in her 2000 Chevrolet Impala, sticking her with the bill as well. Still worse, the woman had a backpack in the car containing $300 in cash, a laptop, iPod and camera.

Ferndale police Detective Sgt. Patrick Jones described the incident:
"She gave him her keys and he went out the door. From where she was sitting she saw him get in her car and he drove off at a high rate of speed. It sounds like a bad date to me. She picked him up that night at his apartment, then he stole her car and didn't even settle up the bill for dinner."
Fortunately for the woman, and police, the two had talked on their cell phones several times and McCoy had sent her a picture of himself that she kept on her cell phone, with which the police were able to ID him.

McCoy waived a preliminary hearing Thursday and was ordered to stand trial in Oakland County Circuit Court.
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Man Shoots Himself in Leg in Road Rage Incident

A man who was a real bad shot in Lancaster, NY ended up shooting himself in the leg after a road rage incident late Wednesday.

Police said the incident started at about 10:30 PM, when one driver cut off the other. A chase began, with two individuals on motorcycles and one in another vehicle.

Eventually, the motorcyclists and the motorist confronted each other, and the motorist pulled out a gun. Capt. Timothy R. Murphy said:
"The one male points the gun at the second male. The second male punches him in the face. As the first male is falling backwards, he discharges the gun and shoots himself in the left leg."
What a shame (insert sarcasm here). No charges have been filed, and police have not identified either of the combatants, both of whom are in their 20s. However, detectives are considering possible charges, including weapons possession, against the man with the gun.
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Bill Moyers: Universal Health Care is "Representative of a Deeply Moral Society"

Bill Moyers appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night. When asked about health care reform, he made some statements which should make those against Universal Health Care and Health Care Reform embarrassed, or even ashamed of themselves.
  • I find it hard, Bill, to understand why this country has not embraced the notion of health care as a common human need to which everyone should have access regardless of their economic resources.
  • They (the Republicans) are totally against health care reform. Why shouldn't they be? They don't want to give Barack Obama the greatest progressive breakthrough in domestic policy since Lyndon Johnson and Medicare. It's to their interest as a party (i.e., it's not about anything for the GOP but politics) not to let Obama get an advantage that will help re-elect him in 2012.
  • We are the only Western democracy that has not embraced Universal Health Care as a means of social justice. Our health care system is run by the drug industry, the health insurance industry, and Wall Street. Which means, a relative handful of unaccountable executives and anonymous investors, whose primary interest is in increasing the value of the company share, and raising profits. That's their interest. Now that's a good business model, because it's made a lot of money for the people who runs thos industries, Wall Street, drugs, and health insurance, but it's not the way we should decide who lives and who dies, and who suffers and who gets well; that's just not the way.
  • We're all in the same boat. That would be a metaphor. And that's the moral, that's the moral ... The moral message that America would send by adopting care as a human need to which everybody should have access, the moral message would be that we we are in this together, that we care about each other. All of us who have means will give up something in order to make sure everybody has health care. I don't want to live in a country where I am on a hospital floor getting an operation that costs $25,000, and two floors above me someone is being denied that same surgery because he or she has no money. What kind of a civilization is that? What kind of moral order is that? It's not.
  • Some things do not have a price tag on it; they have a value system attached to it. And health care for everyone, Universal Health Care for every citizen, irrespective of your resources, is representative of a deeply moral society. What do I mean by moral? A society that cares for the other. That's what makes us moral.
  • [...] we need this because we're a decent country.
Those on the right against health care for all should answer this question: if you are against abortion because it kills unborn fetuses, and call it "right to life," what about the 20,000 people that statistics say die every year because they are denied health care? What about their right to life?

Watch Part 1:

Watch Part 2:

Watch Part 3:
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Bush Shoe Thrower to Get Out Early, For Good Behavior

Remember Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw both of his shoes at then U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference in Iraq in December of 2008? He was sentenced to one year, 6 months for each shoe, but it now appears he will get out early.

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

Originally, al-Zaidi had been sentenced to three years, but the sentence was reduced to 12 months because he had no prior record. According to his lawyer, Karim al-Shujairi, al-Zeidi will now be released on Sept. 14, three months early.

Apparently the early release is for good behavior. al-Shujairi said, "We have been informed officially about the court decision. His release will be a victory for the free and honorable Iraqi media."

al-Zaidi's act of defiance made him a national hero to many Iraqis. The Iraqi administration, of course, demonized him, but many Iraqis emulated his act in nationwide protests, and sales of the so-called "Bush Shoe" (the Ducati Model 271), skyrocketed.

Neither Bush, nor Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was standing next to him, was injured, but Bush was forced to duck, and al-Maliki was embarrassed publicly. As he threw the shoes, al-Zaidi shouted in Arabic: "This is your farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

Watch the video below.

Dugard Kidnappers Tied to Prostitute Murders; Plead Not Guily

Jaycee Lee Dugard and, we assume, her two children, today continue to adjust to "normal" life, as normal as it could be under the circumstances. At the same time, Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, of Antioch and his wife, Nancy Garrido, 55, pleaded not guilty, while police searched their residence of evidence of connection into a string of 10 prostitute murders in the 1990s.

While police remain close-mouthed about the murder investigation, they did indicate that, at the time, Phillip Craig Garrido worked near the area in Pittsburg, CA, where the prostitutes' bodies were found.

What we do know, is that both Garridos lived in the house where Jaycee Lee Dugard was housed in a compound (pictured above), secreted behind a backyard fence that kept outsiders from seeing the buildings. Despite the obvious evidence to the contrary, Garrido and his wife Nancy both plead not guilty to a total of 29 charges of rape and kidnapping in connection with the 1991 abduction of Jaycee Lee Dugard.

Also, more details on just how Jaycee Lee Dugard was finally found continue to emerge today. UC Berkeley police said that campus officers' suspicions were raised on Tuesday when Phillip Craig Garrido brought his two young daughters, via Dugard, to the university to discuss holding an event related to God, the FBI and other topics.

You might recall that Garrido had his own "church" and a blog with some strange postings, among which were assertions that he could control sound with his mind.

Officer Ally Jacobs said that the girls acted strangely.
"The younger daughter was staring directly at me, as if she was looking into my soul, with this eerie smile on her face. I just got a weird, uneasy feeling."
After checking Garrido's background, which included the fact that he was a registered sex offender, Jacobs contacted his parole officer. She told the parole officer that Garrido was accompanied by two daughters.
"He said, 'Garrido doesn't have any daughters.' At that point, my stomach just sank."
While still a tragedy, reports are that Jaycee Lee Dugard today appears to be adjusting well to the "outside world," according to her parents.

While still a tragedy, reports are that Jaycee Lee Dugard today appears to be adjusting well to the "outside world," according to her parents. She, and probably her children, will need counseling, and hopefully, will get it quickly.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

GOP Says Dems Will Ration Health Care to Republicans

The GOP loves scare tactics, as they readily admit. This fundraising mailer, sent to GOP voters, which implies that voter registration will be used to ration health care, sinks to a new low.

The Republican National Committee's mailer includes this line, which bears no basis in fact, in a questionnaire:
"[...] GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system. Does this possibility concern you?"
Translation: Democrats might deny anyone registered as a Republican treatment.

A spokeswoman for the RNC said the questionnaire was "inartfully worded" and added "The RNC doesn't try to scare people." What? The whole Presidential campaign in 2004 was built around fear.

Let's not forget the objection by the American Spectator over making Sept. 11 a national day of service:
The plan is to turn a "day of fear" that helps Republicans into a day of activism called the National Day of Service that helps the left. In other words, nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.
It's right there, "a day of fear." For the GOP, it's all about fear. No issues, just fear.

As opposed to the lie in the mailer, here's truth: there's already health care rationing. And it's done by the insurance companies. This has been called health care reform, but it's really insurance reform, taking the money out of the pockets of millionaire CEOs and making insurance available to all.

What's wrong with that?
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DJ AM Found Dead in His Apartment

Another case of the "lifestyle of the rich and famous" leading to substance addiction, and later death. Celebrity disc jockey "DJ AM," AKA Adam Goldstein has been found dead in his New York apartment Friday evening. Reports indicated that drug paraphernalia was found near his body.

Goldstein, 36, or DJ AM, was a (what else) disc jockey who performed at Hollywood's most exclusive parties. Not only did he live a glamorous lifestyle and high-profile romances, he became famous for some high-profile romances, including the likes of Nicole Richie and Mandy Moore.

A rep for DJ AM issued the following statement: "Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein was found deceased this afternoon in his New York City apartment. The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear. Out of respect for his family and loved ones, please respect their privacy at this time."

Paramedics broke down the door to DJ AM's Manhattan apartment and found his body at about 5:20 PM EDT. Apparently, friends had not seen Goldstein for a few days.

In a sort of "Final Destination" moment, DJ AM was found dead nearly a year after escaping, along with Travis Barker, from a South Carolina plane crash that killed four others.

Fox News reported that DJ AM had become addicted since the crash, in which both he and Barker were burned.

"About 7 years ago he went through major drug addictions, and he worked so hard, and successfully kicked the habit. He was terrified to take any of the meds the doctors prescribed him after the crash, but the pain was so bad. Adam took them, and the need for the drugs grew, and now here we are. It's terrible that no one was able to stop him soon enough, but it just happened so fast."
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The Great California Garage Sale Shows the Extent of the State's Woes

It's a page out of the book of struggling families, or families with a junked-up garage. It's a garage sale, and on Friday begins what's being billed as the Great California Garage Sale.

The Great California Garage Sale runs Friday, Aug. 28th from 8 AM to 6PM, and Saturday, August 29th from 7 AM to 12 PM. The location is the state's huge warehouse at 1700 National Drive, Sacramento, CA.

The idea of the Great California Garage Sale is to sell of surplus items to try to ease California's budget crunch. As you probably know, California is facing a budget crisis. Rather than raising taxes, the state has trimmed enormous amounts from the budget, affecting schools and other services.

The state has also made state workers take furloughs as well, 3 days a month. This cuts their wages, effectively taxing them with the extra that the rest of California does not want to pay. Hardly seems fair, does it.

Back to the Great California Garage Sale, The State and Consumer Services Agency says close to 6,000 items are up for grabs. They include furniture, computers, office equipment, government cars, police motorcycles and more.

Some of the cars even come with a star's signature. There are numerous Chevy Cavaliers, which for some reason appear to be California’s governmental car of choice, and a few bear Gov. Arnold Schwarzennegger's autograph, in an attempt to jack up the price and move them quicker.
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Hundreds of US Troops Mistakenly Sent Letters About ALS

Hundreds of U.S. troops were wrongly sent letters which could be interpreted to mean that they were suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The neuromuscular disorder is incurable, usually fatal, and stole decades from the life of the New York Yankee great (pictured).

The Veterans Administration was attempting to inform veterans who were suffering from ALS that they were now eligible for disability benefits. Last September the Secretary of Veterans Affairs made amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a presumptively compensable illness.

However, a "coding error" meant that about 600 veterans were sent the letter, when they should not have been. In reality, the letter was not telling them of a diagnosis of ALS, but rather informing them of benefits.

Given that, hopefully careful reading would have prevented anyone from becoming distraught over ALS, which is essentially a death sentence. Sufferers usually die within a few years, although British physicist Stephen Hawking is one who has managed beat those odds.

In a press release regarding the mistake:

In an effort to provide Veterans this new and much-needed support, VA sent notification letters to Veterans with ALS advising them of their potential eligibility for disability compensation benefits. On August 13, 2009, VA sent outreach letters to 1,864 Veterans and survivors across the country. Unfortunately, VA made a coding error and Veterans who should not have received this letter did. The Department is reviewing individual claims files for all the recipients of this letter to identify those who received it by mistake.

VA employees are calling Veterans to ensure that they understand the purpose of the letter, explain why they mistakenly received the letter, and express VA’s sincere apologies for the distress caused by this unfortunate and regrettable error.
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Official Coroner's Report Rules Michael Jackson's Death a Homicide

The Los Angeles County coroner's office officially released Michael Jackson's autopsy results on Friday. As an earlier leak from a law enforcement official noted, the coroner ruled Michael Jackson's death a homicide.

It should be noted that a homicide is not necessarily a crime. Murder is a form of homicide, but there are cases that could be ruled "justifiable homicide." However, the designation of Jackson's death as a homicide would seemingly make charges against his personal physician more likely.

The official cause of death was determined to be acute propofol intoxication. However, a combination of other drugs was found in his system, including the sedatives Lorazepam, Midazolam, Diazepam, Lidocaine and Ephedrine. These were listed as a contributing factor.

Although the results of the autopsy were issued, via a press release, the complete toxicology report will remain sealed at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney.

Dr. Conrad Murray, a Las Vegas, NV cardiologist who became Jackson’s personal physician in preparation for comeback tour, weeks before his death, is currently under investigation. Murray has previously admitted giving Jackson propofol and other sedatives for insomnia reasons on the day he died, June 25th.
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Details Emerge in Jaycee Lee Dugard's 18-Year Ordeal; Kidnapper "Heard God," Could "Control Sound"

More details are emerging in the case of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the now 29-year-old woman who was kidnapped 18 years ago while her stepfather watched helplessly. The initial crime itself was terrible, but the details on the following 18 years are horrific.

Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, of Antioch has been arrested in the case. He had a prior history as a sexual predator prior to the Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnapping. His wife, Nancy Garrido, 55, has also been arrested. The two are pictured above.

According to reports, Garrido kept Jaycee Lee Dugard, as well as two children he fathered with her, housed in sheds and other buildings hidden behind a separate fence in his backyard. The fencing was done in such a manner as to prevent it being easily seen by others. The walls of the "compound" were even soundproofed.

In fact, the fencing was so well done that Philip Craig Garrido dodged a bullet in July 2008, when a multiagency Contra Costa County task force searched his home as part of a sexu offender compliance check. They found no evidence of anyone besides the two Garridos and his mother living at the house.

When the task force looked in the backyard, they saw only a screened-in porch and a back fence. What they missed was that behind the back fence was a hidden area with sheds and outbuildings, where Jaycee Lee Dugard and her children were living.

At this point, Jaycee Lee Dugard and her daughters, who are 11 and 15, are together in a motel in Antioch. Her mother, Terry Probyn has spoken to her and says she "sounds normal," according to Dugard's stepfather, Carl Probyn, from whom Terry is separated. However, when she first spoke to police this week, Dugard told them her name was Allissa, authorities said.

Neither of Jaycee Lee Dugard's daughters has ever attended school. It's also unclear why she did not attempt escape previously, thought that question will likely be answered as time passes. Speaking to my psychologist wife, It is likely that Stockholm Syndrome had something to do with it.

Stockholm syndrome is a well-known psychological response by abductees, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the abductor, regardless of their treatment during the time of kidnapping. In such cases, the abductee may have chances to escape, but not take them, even appearing in public with the kidnapper.

Philip Craig Garrido told NBC station KCRA of Sacramento in a telephone interview Thursday from jail that he has turned his life around, and that the abduction of Dugard had a great deal to do with it.
"Wait until you hear the story of what took place at this house. You are going to be completely impressed. It's a disgusting thing that took place with me at the beginning. But I turned my life completely around and to be able to understand that, you have to start there.

"If you take this a step at a time you're going to fall over backwards and in the end, you're going to find the most powerful heart-warming story."
Does that sound sort of, well, insane? Perhaps that's not off the mark by too much. Apparently Garrido had his own "church," and blog, in which he stated:
This document is to affirm that I Phillip Garrido have clearly demonstrated the ability to control sound with my mind and have developed a device for others to witness this phenomena. by using a sound generator to provide the sound, and a headphone amplification system, ( a device to focuc your hearing so as to increase the sensitivity of what one is listening to) I have produced a set of voices by effectively controlling the sound to pronounce words through my own mental powers.
He also stated that:
[...] the Creator has given me the ability to speak in the tongue of angels in order to provide a wake-up call that will in time include the salvation of the entire world.
In case you needed any more evidence, there it is; he's one sick puppy.Pictures from Jaycee Lee Dugard's childhood are above.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bill Filed to Remove Dueling References from KY State Oath of Office

In another one of those common-sense moves, KY State Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), prefiled a bill on Tuesday that would delete references to a ban on dueling from the state oath of office. As one might imagine, when the oath is taken, those who aren't expecting such references often chuckle. The oath says:
"... I, being a citizen of this state, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God."
Obviously just a tad bit out of date, the references to dueling in the oath, according to Owens, make the ceremonies, shall we say, just a little bit undignified.
"Every member of the General Assembly, all officeholders and every member of the bar must take this oath. I think that it is time we jump into the 21st century and delete this archaic language so the oath of office can be administered in a serious and respectful manner."
The reason for the dueling ban, according to Owens, is that there were a significant number of duels between Kentuckians, prompting the Kentucky legislature to enact laws against formal duels, which imposed fines as well as a long period of disqualification from public office.

Then, in 1849, delegates to a constitutional convention added a provision that required all state officers to take an oath that they had never fought, seconded or issued a challenge in a duel. While the bill will be considered in the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly, which begins in January, it would require an amendment to the constitution (a public vote) to enact the measure.
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Woman Surfaces After Abduction 18 Years Ago

Jaycee Dugard, now 29, was abducted in Meyers, CA in El Dorado County, on June 10, 1991. She has now surfaced in Concord, CA, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.

A couple have been arrested and booked into County Jail in Martinez in connection with the Jaycee Dugard case. The two were identified as Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, of Antioch and his wife, Nancy Garrido, 55.

Jaycee Dugard was last seen as she was walking to a bus stop in South Lake Tahoe. She was trying to catch her school bus. Carl Probyn, her stepfather, was watching from the family's driveway a hill about two blocks away when a two-tone gray sedan pulled up and someone grabbed Dugard while the car sped off.

On Wednesday, Jaycee Dugard walked into the Concord Police Department. Full details are not yet available, but it has been confirmed that the woman is indeed Jaycee Dugard.

Terry Probyn is on her way to the SF Bay Area to be reunited with her daughter, Jaycee Dugard. Carl and Terry are currently separated, according to reports. The family had given up hope, as most might after 18 years. Carl Probyn said:
"I gave up hope for 18 years, just went into recovery mode. I thought it would be nice just to recover her and capture the people and find out why they did this. Now, I just won the lotto. It's just unbelievable. This is going to be a great day today."
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

China Admits to Harvesting Organs From Prisoners

It's like a science fiction story. Harvesting organs from prisoners? Yet China has admitted to doing so.

According to a report in the China Daily newspaper, citing unnamed experts, executed prisoners currently provide nearly 2/3 of all transplant organs. China executes more people than any other country. Amnesty International said at least 1,718 people were executed in 2008.

There's a reason China takes organs from prisoners, however. Well, besides the obvious one. There is cultural bias against removing organs after death. So, while the government is announced Wednesday a voluntary donation program, which it hopes will also curb illegal trafficking in organs, the odds of success are not high.

To this date, in fact, only 130 organ transplants have ever been performed in China using donors who consented to have their organs used after their death.

At least publicly, China acknowledges that the use of organs from executed prisoners is a problem. The China Daily quoted Vice-Health Minister Huang Jiefu as saying that condemned prisoners were "definitely not a proper source for organ transplants."
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Florida Students Wear "Islam is of the Devil" T-shirts to School

There was a time when parents tried to teach their kids acceptance. Gainesville, FL high school students have been sent home over the last few days for wearing t-shirts with the phrase “Islam is of the Devil” on the back. The children wearing the shirts belong to the Dove World Outreach Center, an evangelical “New Testament Church.”

The T-shirts had a verse from the Gospel of John on the front: "Jesus answered I am the way and the truth and the life; no one goes to the Father except through me," and the statement, "I stand in trust with Dove Outreach Center." The students were sent home for violation of the school district's dress code when they declined to change clothes or cover their clothing.

Freedom of speech does not apply in this case, according to legal experts:
Catherine Cameron, a faculty member at the Stetson College of Law, said the school district "likely has a good leg to stand on from a First Amendment standpoint" because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in several cases that public schools may quash speech deemed disruptive "even if it steps on the other child's free speech rights."
Also, Ron Collins, a scholar with the nonprofit First Amendment Center in Washington D.C., said courts give public school officials a "significant amount of latitude" in regulating student dress that could be disruptive.
"Here, it's not only a religious expression. It's a religious expression that is hostile to other forms of religious expression."
What's happened to people? Every time you turn around, it seems there is a new excuse for hate.

Saeed R. Khan, president of the Muslim Association of North Central Florida, said:
"It's pretty offensive, isn't it? Particularly in a school setting where you are trying to create an atmosphere where people are supposed to respect each other and live with each other, where we have people of every ethnicity and every religion."
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Right-Wing Asserts 9/11 National Day of Service to Erase Day as GOP Tool

This is interesting. 9/11 victims' families have long recommended making the date a national day of service. President Bush, not President Obama, called for it first. Yet the right is saying that such a day of service would make the date one of "of leftist celebration and statist idolatry."

Whoa, I always thought such a day would mark it as a memorial and be good. So, it's good when Bush suggests it (or at least there was no protest), but bad when the Democrats support it. I see.

Here's the real reason, and it's one that I've posited in the past. The GOP loves to scare folks into voting for their candidates. And that's freely noted by American Spectator:
The plan is to turn a "day of fear" that helps Republicans into a day of activism called the National Day of Service that helps the left. In other words, nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.
A "day of fear that helps Republicans." If anyone is desecrating the memory of 9/11, it's a thought like this. This is politicizing 9/11 for the right. That's better?

The bill also had strong GOP support. Seventy House Republicans and 22 GOP senators voted for the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act, which established the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11.

An example: Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, who said:
“America came together in the aftermath of 9/11, reminding us what it truly means to be part of this great nation. By making 9/11 a national day of service, that same spirit of giving will continue in a day of remembrance, unity, and selflessness.”
Remembrance, unity, and selflessness. Let's think along those lines, instead of politicizing it for our advantage, can we?
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What's the Next Right-Wing Scare Tactic? Zombie Death Panels: Olbermann

On last night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Keith discussed a new talking point on health care reform: zombie scare tactics.
OLBERMANN: First it was the death panels, and then it was the death book, or, as it's also known, the Grim Reader. So it can only be a matter of time before Republicans bring us a new talking point on health care reform; Democrats will turn you and your loved ones into zombies. Our number one story, forget living wills, the GOP instead wants you to be scared of the living dead.

A new mathematical study could pave the way for future Republican scare tactics on health care, drawing parallel between zombie plagues and infectious diseases. Researchers in Canada have determined, quote, if zombies actually existed, an attack by them would lead to the collapse of civilization, unless dealt with quickly and aggressively. Humanity's only hope, Dick Cheney.

Hit them, the undead, hard, and hit them often.

Already baiting a possible right wing feeding frenzy, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman; his latest op-ed titled All of the President's Zombies. Actually, the column had nothing to do with Republicans scaring everyone into thinking that Obama-care would lead to zombies, but why give Sarah Palin another article she could misrepresent on her Facebook page?

Meanwhile, the National Review sharing its reaction to the zombie study by passing along these pearls of wisdom, zombies are cool. It's just a fact.

And were these jokers European? Almost, they were Canadian.

Leave it to Boss Limbaugh to get everyone in line, a transcript titled, Democrats set up war rooms, website to instruct their zombies.

Limbaugh weighing in on President Obama's former campaign organization. It's the night of the living dead in the daytime. Obama zombies -- which is tough to say -- Obama Zombies marching around with little instructions and pamphlets, manuals.
It was a hilarious outing, actually, with Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide, Recorded Attacks, due out in paperback on October 6th as a guest.

One other key point that Keith made, which points to a desire for zombie attacks by the right-wing. "Plus, if the zombies are looking for brains, they'll only eat the Democrats."

Watch the tongue-in-cheek segment:

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