Saturday, October 31, 2009

U.S. Navy Ship Mistakenly Fires on Polish Port

The U.S. Navy has egg on its face, but at least no blood, after an accidental firing incident in the Polish port of Gdynia on Wednesday. Three rounds were fired from an M240 machine gun into the town, but no injuries or damage were reported, officials said.

The reason for the mistake was an accidental discharge while the gun was being cleaned. The incident happened as the U.S. destroyer, the U.S.S. Ramage, was in port after retuning from an international exercise in the Baltic Sea. It was preparing to leave later that day. No injuries or damage were reported, the Navy said.

Polish military police boarded the ship to investigate. Navy officials said the crew of the U.S.S. Ramage cooperated fully, and that no U.S. sailors were taken into custody by Polish authorities. There was no immediate word of a U.S. Navy investigation into the incident.

The M240 is a belt-fed, gas-operated medium machine gun firing the 7.62 x 51mm NATO cartridge. The U.S.S. Ramage (shown) is an Arleigh Burke-class Guided Missile Destroyer.
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Skywest Airlines Accused of Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples

Skywest Airlines gives spouses free fares, but a Skywest Airlines baggage agent who married his partner last year after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions, and before Prop. 8 banned them again, says the airline is refusing to recognize his legally sanctioned same-sex marriage.

While Prop. 8 amended the state Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, those 18,000 or so same-sex couples who married before the November election are still legally recognized as married. The state Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 this past May, it also ruled that couples who wed before the election could remain legally wed.

Gilbert Caldwell, 56, who has worked for SkyWest in Palm Springs since September 2004, married David Farrell, 72, his partner of 34 years, in June 2008. They had been registered domestic partners since 2002. Skywest says that "travel companion," entitled to fly at a discount but not for free, as spouses are.

Interestingly, even with same-sex marriage, California law entitles same-sex spouses and domestic partners to be treated the same as heterosexual married couples in employment, housing, insurance and commerce. As Caldwell and Farrell were already domestic partners, they should have been eligible for this free fare discount already.

Tara Borelli of the gay-rights organization Lambda Legal is Caldwell's attorney. She said Skywest's position for the last year has been that Delta Air Lines, its partner in regional flights in the West, insisted on denying equal benefits to same-sex couples. Howeever, Borelli added that SkyWest's explanation is hard to believe: Delta has a policy of treating its own gay and lesbian employees equally.

She said Caldwell would sue for damages unless SkyWest changed its policy.
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween "Lynching" Display Taken Down After Protest

A set of three dummies in a "lynching" display were taken down from their positions in a willow tree in a park in Frederick, MD. The local Parks and Recreation Department had hung the three dummies up as a Halloween display. One Frederick resident said:
“It instantly reminded me of the pictures of the lynchings that happened in the ’20s and ’30s in the United States. I found it very offensive as a white person.”
Mayor Jeff Holtzinger first said he would wait to hear from the Parks and Recreation department, but changed his mind after the story was picked up by national media and allegations were made that Frederick is a racially insensitive place.

There were also complaints from residents, as well as the NAACP. Some parents also complained that the dummies were positioned in too public a place where small children might be frightened.

Guy Djoken (pictured), president of the local branch of the NAACP, commended Holtzinger for his decision. The dummies will be made up even scarier and place throughout the part to frighten people, but not hung up.
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Stephen Colbert Signs "Close Gitmo Now" Petition, On Air

Last night, Roseanne Cash promoted the cause of closing Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on The Colbert Report. Last week, a group of international musicians that included Trent Reznor, Jackson Browne, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and others joined the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo.

The musicians also filed Freedom of Information Act (GOIA) requests seeking to declassify all secret government records pertaining to how music was used in detainee interrogations in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Rosanne Cash visited The Colbert Report last night, where she made her point: using music as torture is wrong. Thus, she successfully got the faux conservative host to sign a petition calling for the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Watch it:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
We Got the Beating - Rosanne Cash
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorReligion
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High School Football Player Charged With Assault for Head-Butting Helmetless Opponent

An Arlington Catholic High School football player has been charged with assault and battery after head-butting a helmet-less opposing player in a game on Sept. 19th. The head-butt was captured on video (below).

In the video, you can see 17-year old James LaShoto head-butting Dan Curtin, 16 (shown), whose helmet had come off. Curtin told local TV station WBZ:
"I didn't know what was happening... he pushed my helmet off, the next thing I knew I was covered in blood."
LaShoto is a team captain at Arlington Catholic and a member of the National Honor Society. Very little honor in that move, however.

"Act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with God" is the motto of Arlington Catholic High School. It does not appear that LaShoto followed any of that.

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Police Arrest Iraqi-American Father Who Ran Over Westernized Daughter

Georgia police have arrested Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 48, who is suspected of running down his daughter because she was becoming too "Westernized" and was not living according to their traditional Iraqi values. The incident actually occurred in Arizona on Oct. 20, and Almaleki had been on the run.

The father was upset that his daughter, Noor Faleh Almaleki, 20, of Surprise, AZ, had become too "Westernized" and he aimed his car at her Oct. 20 in a Peoria, AZ parking lot. Noor Faleh Almaleki is currently hospitalized with serious injuries.

A second woman, 43-year-old Amal Edan Khalaf, also of Surprise, suffered non-life threatening injuries. Police say the women are roommates; additional information indicates that Khalaf is the mother of Almaleki's boyfriend.

Faleh Hassan Almaleki was arrested at the Atlanta airport when he arrived on a flight. It's unclear where he is currently being held.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Candy Demonic: CBN

To be honest, it's true that many consider Halloween a pagan holiday, but come on. It's truly a darned excuse for children to go out and get some candy. In fact, do you know one of the reasons that the U.S. pushed back DST in the fall until after Halloween? It's because the candy manufacturers had been lobbying for years over it.

That said, a guest writer, Kimberly Daniels, wrote a blog post on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) site (since deleted) which stated that Christians needed to skip the Halloween celebration because it's evil. Although the post has been deleted, you can see from a screenshot (click the above image) that it was there.

Here's some of what Daniels said:
“Most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches,” Daniels wrote. “I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference.”
Here's what I say: fine. More candy for me.
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South Carolina Asst. Attorney General Found in Graveyard With Call Girl

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster is in the news again, but not over anything Craigslist-related. No, it's because he fired deputy assistant attorney general Roland Corning, 66, who was found in a cemetary with an apparent call girl.

Roland Corning, also a former state legislator (R-Richmond), was pulled over by officer Michael Wines at 3:15 PM Monday, according to a Columbia Police Department report. Earlier, Wines had witnessed the Ford Explorer driven by Corning pull into a secluded portion of Elmwood Cemetery that Wines had "received past complaints in ref. to illegal activity, i.e. sex acts and drug abuse," Wines wrote in his report.

When Corning beat a hasty retreat, Wines got on the radio and eventually Corning was stopped by another officer. When questioned by Wines, Corning and the woman, identified only as an employee of the Platinum Plus Gentleman's Club, gave conflicting statements. Questioned further, Corning flashed his deputy asst. attorney general's badge.

That eventually got Corning out of an arrest, but not out of hot water. To verify his ID, Wines called his wife, who worked in the state attorney general's office. She verified his ID, but also reported the incident to Deputy Attorney General John McIntosh, who forwareded the information to Attorney General Henry McMaster. Two hours later, Corning was looking for a new job.

Interestingly, Corning gave Wines the OK to search his vehicle. When doing so, Wines found Viagra and several sex toys, items Corning said he always kept with him, "just in case," according to the police report.
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eBay Refuses Auction to Benefit Abortion Doctor Slayer

Online auction house eBay has refused to run a "benefit auction" that was being organized to gather funds for Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, earlier this year. The announcement came the same day that Tiller’s family begged eBay to halt the auction.

Lee Thompson, an attorney for the Tiller family, in a letter sent to eBay on Tuesday and approved by Tiller’s widow, Jeanne Tiller, said:
“These materials contain hate messages, glorify violence against abortion doctors who provide constitutionally protected medical services, and instruct on means of violence, including bombing, of abortion clinics. We urge you to deny access to the resources of eBay for this reprehensible and vile ‘auction.’"
The auction was intended to raise money for the defense of Scott Roeder. He is charged with first-degree murder in abortion doctor George Tiller's death and is scheduled to go on trial in January.

Items being auctioned would have included an Army of God manual, a prison cookbook compiled by a Shelley Shannon, the Oregon woman who shot and wounded Tiller in 1993 and was later convicted in a series of abortion clinic arsons and bombings, and several autographed drawings submitted by Roeder.

One of those drawings was of David and Goliath that depicted David holding the head of Goliath and the name “Tiller” on Goliath’s forehead, with the words "child-murdering industry" written on the corpse.

According to the Kansas City Star, eBay said:
“Based on the details we know about the anticipated listings, we believe these would violate our policy regarding offensive material. EBay will not permit the items in question to be posted to the eBay site, and they will be removed if they are posted.”
Supporters of Roeder plan alternative methods of fund-raising, and claim eBay is violating their civil rights.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Man Says He Was Fired for "Under God" Pin

A former Home Depot worker says he was fired for wearing a pin that said "Under God" on it. The lawyer for Trevor Keezer, 20, added that he intends to sue over religious discrimination.

Keezer said he'd been wearing an American flag button on his Home Depot apron since he began working as a cashier at the store in March 2008. The button read, "One nation under God, indivisible," a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Trevor Keezer had been working at the Home Depot store in the town of Okeechobee, about 140 miles north of Miami. He states all was well until he started to bring a bible to read at lunch. That is, according to his statements, when Home Depot management stepped in and told him to stop wearing the pin. He refused.

Home Depot management stated it is company policy to not allow wearing of pins or buttons that are not company-provided. They stated this is clearly outlined as part of the company dress code.

While Kara Skorupa, said she planned to sue the company, Michael Masinter, a civil rights and employment law professor at NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale said that would be a tough lawsuit to win.
"Because it's a private business, not one that's owned and operated by the government, it doesn't have to operate under the free speech provisions of the First Amendment. But we're not talking about religious displays here," he said. "This sounds more like a political message ... Wearing a button of that sort would not easily be described as a traditional form of religious expression like wearing a cross or wearing a yarmulke."
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wayward Pilots Have Their Licenses Revoked

The wayward pilots who overshot their target of Minneapolis airport don't have to worry about doing that again anytime soon. That's because the FAA has revoked the licenses for both Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash., the captain, and Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., the first officer.

The two pilots of Northwest Airlines Flight 188 had reportedly told National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators that rather than being in communication with air traffic controllers, they were on their laptops, working on crew schedules. At least, according to the two, they weren't napping.

However, they were still in violation of a number of federal aviation regulations, including failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly.

The revocations are effective immediately. The pilots have 10 days to appeal the emergency revocations to the NTSB.
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RNC's Facebook Page Displays Racist Photos For Nearly a Week

The Facebook page of the Republican National Committee displayed some revolting, racist photos, one nearly for a week, before they were taken down after a liberal website publicized their existence.

The first picture brought to light was one of President Barack Obama eating fried chicken, captioned with the following: "Miscegenation is a CRIME against American Values. Repeal Loving v. Virginia."

Miscegenation refers to the "marriage or cohabitation between a man and woman of different races." Loving v. Virginia was the landmark Supreme Court case that struck down laws against interracial marriage. By the way, you can't actually repeal a Supreme Court decision. That photo was posted on Oct. 20th.

Another troubling photo was of Mother Teresa, in which she is shown feeding a child. The caption beneath read, "Enabling scab-eating mouth breathers will do them no good. How do we expect them to take care of themselves?"

While none of the photos in question appear to have been posted by the administrator of the GOP's Facebook site, it's interesting that the administrator did not remove them, and that there was no uproar among the Republicans visiting the site. Either they did not disagree, or did not care, or there were no visitors (doubtful).

Both of those photos were posted by a Facebook user named "Gee Dub," apparently in reference to President George W. Bush. They have both been removing, but it is still troubling that they were there in the first place.
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Seriously, Kids Need Less TV: Disney Offers "Baby Einstein" Refunds

I was watching TV the other day (admittedly, lowering my IQ while doing so), and saw one of those "Your Child Can Read" commercials, which immediately suckered me in. Not so my wife, however, and that's where Baby Einstein refunds for their DVDs come in.

Walt Disney Company has admitted that no, watching TV really can't make your child into a genius, or at least, watching Baby Einstein DVDs can't. In order to avoid a lawsuit, Disney has agreed to refund the full purchase price to those who bought the videos between June 5, 2004 and September 4, 2009.

The Baby Einstein refunds were prompted by pressure from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which complained to the FTC about Disney's claims that the videos are educational.

You can get your Baby Einstein refund here. Alternatively, you can opt for One (1) Baby Einstein Book of your choice and One (1) Baby Einstein music CD of your choice, - Or - One (1) coupon for 25% off the purchase of one Little Einsteins product (redeemable with promotion code only at, which makes it less of a great deal). Disney was quick to state that the refund offer is not an admission that the company misled parents.

The best choice is probably the Baby Einstein refund. On Monday, Nielsen released new findings that said that children sit in front of TV for more than an entire day out of an average week. It makes sense. Remember the old, old days when Saturday morning cartoons were it, and the TV stations logged off at 1 AM or so? Those days are long gone, and kid programming is available 24 x 7 from multiple channels.
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ESPN Confirms Brooke Hundley Fired, As Well As Steve Phillips

ESPN has confirmed that Brooke Hundley, 22, the production assistant was involved in a secret affair with former ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips, has been let go as well.

While acknowledging that Brooke Hundley was no longer with ESPN, and stating that she had been terminated, the sports network did not elaborate on the exact reason of the termination or the exact date. ESPN earlier fired Steve Phillips, saying "His ability to be an effective representative for ESPN has been significantly and irreparably damaged."

The affair became grist for the mill when Phillips' wife Marni filed a police report in Wilton, CN. In the report, Marni Phillips said that Hundley had sent her a letter describing the affair, even detailing the former Mets' GM's birthmarks as proof. On August 19th, Marni Phillips came home to find Hundley in her driveway. It seems Steve Phillips had chosen an affair with a "fatal attraction" involved, and called police.

Meanwhile, Steve Lefkowitz, Phillips' agent, added in a statement that Phillips had entered an inpatient treatment facility "to address his personal issues." No reason was given, but sexual addiction is suspected. Lefkowitz said:
"Steve Phillips is not a sleazebag. He's a good guy who just fell off the wagon. Whatever he did wrong, it wasn't under his control or he wouldn't be checking himself in for help. He knows he needs help and wants a life with his family -- that is paramount to him above everything else."
In terms of falling off the wagon, it should be noted that when he was GM of the New York Mets, Phillips was forced to take a leave of absence in 1998 because of a series of affairs and an accusation of sexual harassment by a Mets employee. One of his mistresses, Rosa Rodriguez, surfaced late last week as well.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

"Overshoot" Pilots Were on Their Laptops: NTSB

No, according to the pilots of the Northwest Airlines Airbus A320 that overshot their Minneapolis, Minn. destination by 150 miles, they weren't napping. Rather, they were on their laptops.

And no, they weren't browsing the web, and certainly not adult sites. Instead, they were, according to interviews conducted over the weekend with the NTSB, going over monthly flight crew scheduling on their laptops.

Nevertheless, that's a violation of company policy.

Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash., the captain, and Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., the first officer, said in interviews conducted over the weekend that they were not fatigued and didn't fall asleep. Neither were they arguing. Instead, Cole and Cheney told investigators that they both had their laptops out while the first officer, who had more experience with scheduling, instructed Captain Cheney on monthly flight crew scheduling.

The pilots of Flight 188 were out of communication with air traffic controllers and their airline for more than an hour. Cheney and Cole have been suspended pending the NTSB investigation. Northwest Airlines is cooperating and doing its own internal investigation, as well.
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It's All for Charity! Charlize Theron Kisses Woman For $140,000 (Video)

Charlize Theron, 34, took part in a live auction during a gala for the charity OneXOne in San Francisco Thurs. Oct. 22. Faced with ignominious defeat, or at least, not being able to raise as much money as previous presenter, Jeremy Piven did ($280,000), she offered a 7-second kiss for $130,000 to a male bidder.

"Swine flu is going around. This is high risk kissing!"

The bid was raised to $135,000, but then a woman upped the stakes to $140,000. With that winning bid, she ascended the stage for a 20-second kiss as the audience counted down the smooch.

Theron was initially selling a 2010 trip to South Africa that included World Cup tickets, a safari and a meet-and-greet with Nelson Mandela, but she raised the stakes when bidding stalled at $37,000.

"For f*** sake! You can do better," she said. "There is no way I am leaving here with Jeremy Piven getting a higher bid. I've got t**** for God's sake."

Unfortunately, it's hard to tell from the grainy video if any tongue was shared ...
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McDonald's to Say Farewell to Iceland

If you travel to Iceland, don't think you can get a Big Mac there. No, you won't even be able to get a hot cup of joe at the McCafe: the two McDonald's restaurants in Iceland are being closed.

Chalk it up to the global recession. Because the Icelandic market is so small (too small for local production), McDonald's has to import everything for its Icelandic restaurants. That includes packaging, meat, vegetables, cheese.

The falling krona has made imports prohibitive. The restaurants are currently importing their supplies from Germany. "The decision was not taken lightly," Jon Gardar Ogmundsson, the owner of Lyst which runs the restaurants, told AFP.

Ogmundsson said Lyst plans to rebrand the restaurants so they can sell cheaper Icelandic food. He also added that the odds of McDonald's returning to Iceland are nil.
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Hotel Tells Hispanic Workers to Change Their Names

Former Marine Larry Whitten, 63, after buying a run-down hotel in Taos, New Mexico, set up some new rules. The idea was to turn around the Paragon Inn (now renamed the Whitten Inn), as he had other distressed hotels he bought in recent years. Rule 1, requiring the Hispanic hotel workers to Anglicize their names, and forbidding them to speak Spanish in his presence, went over like you might expect in this liberal NM town: badly.

Examples or Anglicizing names include Marcos becoming Mark, and Martin (Mahr-TEEN) becoming Martin. In terms of forbidding them from speaking Spanish, after he arrived, Whitten met with the employees, noted they were hostile to his management style and worried they might start talking about him in Spanish. Aha.

He's fired some, who apparently couldn't adjust to his style (or perhaps wouldn't change their names to suit him). Besides workers, the town has not adjusted to his style, either, and they're not happy with what they perceive as racism.

Protester Juanito Burns Jr., who stated he is "prime minister" of an activist group called Los Brown Berets de Nuevo Mexico said, "I do feel he's a racist, but he's a racist out of ignorance. He doesn't know that what he's doing is wrong."

After the firings, the New Mexico branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a national civil rights group, sent Whitten a letter. Whitten alleged that the group referred to him with a racial slur. LULAC denied the charge.

Whitten has also made critical statements in interviews with local media, further incensing residents. He referred to residents as "mountain people" and "potheads who escaped society."

HE was somewhat more apologetic, speaking with AP. "What kind of fool or idiot or poor businessman would I be to orchestrate this whole crazy thing that's costed (sic) me a lot of time, money and aggravation?"
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ESPN Fires Steve Phillips Over Affair

Less than a week after the New York Post that ESPN analyst Steve Phillips had an affair with Brooke Hundley, a 22-year-old production assistant with the network, he was given a pink slip. The network announced on Sunday that:
“Steve Phillips is no longer working for ESPN. His ability to be an effective representative for ESPN has been significantly and irreparably damaged, and it became evident it was time to part ways.”
Besides the news that Steve Phillips was fired, Steve Lefkowitz, Phillips' agent, said in a statement that Phillips had entered an inpatient treatment facility "to address his personal issues."

This isn't the first such incident for Steve Phillips. When he was GM of the New York Mets, he was forced to take a leave of absence in 1998 because of a series of affairs and an accusation of sexual harassment by a Mets employee. One of his mistresses, Rosa Rodriguez, surfaced late last week as well.

While ESPN first gave Steve Phillips a leave of absence, it became apparent that the affair was too embarrassing for the network, and that Steve Phillips had to be fired.

Steve Phillips had just been "promoted" this season. He had been elevated from work as a full-time studio analyst to the “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.

Brooke Hundley hasn't exactly enjoyed the "outing" herself. While reports indicate that she actually had a sort of "fatal attraction" affair with Steve Phillips, it's also created a firestorm of media --- and public --- interest in her, including people trolling Brooke Hundley's MySpace and Facebook pages.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Town Angry Over Canceled "Dead Rabbit Toss" Event

The town of Waiau, which has a population of about 400 people, has held a "Dead Rbbit Toss" for years, but town officials said this year's event has been dropped. The decision came after criticism from the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

Of course, the town is outraged; not over the fact that the rabbit throw was taking place in the first place, but that it had been canceled. It's just another example of humans thinking that they have the right to do anything because they consider themselves at the top of the food chain.

Watch a video report. It should be noted that this is a morning "infotainment" show, not a news program.

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Cellphone Video Shows Police Beating of Unarmed Student

A cellphone video, obtained and posted by the San Jose Mercury News late Saturday shows police officers repeatedly hitting an unarmed university student with batons and a Taser gun. The video has prompted a criminal investigation into the officers' conduct.

The video was taken during the incident by one of the student's roommates, Dimitri Masouris, without the knowledge of the police. The student, Phuong Ho, a 20-year-old math major, faces pending misdemeanor charges of exhibiting a deadly weapon and resisting arrest. While Ho admits picking up a knife as he argued with a roommate that evening, he was not armed when police arrived. The San Jose Mercury-News obtained the video last week from Ho's lawyers.

The video, though shaky and grainy as the San Jose Mercury-News admits, shows one officer hitting the 20-year-old student with a metal baton more than 10 times, including once while he is already handcuffed. Another officer apparently uses his Taser on Ho.

The San Jose Mercury-News showed the video to Daniel Katz, San Jose's assistant police chief. The police department is taking the matter very seriously, he said. The paper showed the video to other analysts as well.

Regarding the baton strike after Ho is handcuffed, Roger Clark, a certified policing expert and a retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, where he served for 27 years, said "That's a felony."

Frank Jordan, former San Francisco police chief as well as former mayor said, "Once he is handcuffed, then he is helpless. If you can show that his hands are behind his back, and he is handcuffed, that is where you get brutality. That would be excessive force."

After the incident, the police report said, Ho was treated for a Taser burn as well as receiving staples to close several wounds, including a blow to his head.
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Pitney: Fox News Basically "A 24-Hour Campaign Against The Obama Administration"

Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday Morning, Huffington Post national editor Nico Pitney debated the White House "campaign" against Fox News. Pitney said:
"If the Republican National Committee had a television network, how would it be any different? And Fox admits it. [...]

The senior vice-president of programming, say in an interview that Fox News is the voice of the opposition. They parade as objective journalists, and some of them do good journalism, but by and large, the network is a 24-hour campaign against the Obama administration."
Jane Hall, a contributor to Fox News for over a decade, while saying isolating the network was a bad idea, and that Fox has both news and commentators (like O'Reilly and Hannity), freely admitted that Media Matters had exposed, via a video montage, that Fox News (or Faux News) had campaigned to paint President Obama as a socialist, racist, a communist, and that was both on news shows and commentary shows.

The problem is that there are many who don't do any vetting, simply watch Fox News, and take commentary as real news.

Watch the video:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Mermaid Girl" Shiloh Pepin Has Died, At Age 10

Shiloh Pepin, the little girl born with the rare condition of "mermaid syndrome" or sirenomelia, has died. She was only 10.

Sirenomelia or mermaid syndrome, as it is commonly called, is the condition of having ones legs fused together. Shiloh Pepin had gained a wide following, via the Internet and national TV shows such as "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Doctors had predicted Shiloh Pepin would probably only survive only for a few days after her birth, but the girl defied the odds. She died at Maine Medical Center on Friday afternoon, hospital spokesman John Lamb said, after being been hospitalized in critical condition for nearly a week.

Earlier this month, her mother, Leslie Pepin, said Shiloh came down with a cold that turned into pneumonia. Shiloh rushed to Maine Medical Center on Oct. 10 and was placed on antibiotics.

Some children have survived sirenomelia by having had surgery to separate their legs. However, Shiloh Pepin could not because she had blood vessels crossing from side to side in her circulatory system. Because of her mermaid syndrome, Pepin had only one partially working kidney, no lower colon or genital organs and the aforementioned fused legs, fused from the waist down. She had received two kidney transplants, the last one in 2007.

Here is an earlier family video:

A condolence video has already been uploaded to YouTube.

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"Overshoot" Pilot Denies Napping

The first officer of the Northwest Airlines flight that overshot its destination by 150 miles before reversing course has denied, among other things, napping on duty. Of course, since the flight overshot the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles, it wouldn't have been just the pilot, but the co-pilot who napped, but that's obvious.

First officer / co-pilot Richard Cole would not say just what it was that led to the flight, Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis, overshooting their mark. He indicated that there was no argument, and no napping, for neither he nor Captain Timothy B. Cheney.

Tbat doesn't explain why the flight was out of contact for more than an hour Wednesday night, as air traffic controllers and pilots tried to contact Cole and Cheney, using radio, cell phone and data messages. Meanwhile, as is SOP in this post-911 world, officials alerted National Guard jets to prepare to chase the airliner, though none of the fighters took off. However, air traffic controllers asked the crew to prove who they were by executing turns once contact was re-established.

Unfortunately, the cockpit voice recorder on Flight 188 may not help resolve the mystery. The older model aboard Northwest's Flight 188 includes just the last 30 minutes of Wednesday night's flight, that portion after the pilots realized their error over Wisconsin and headed back to Minneapolis. More modern cockpit voice recorders store as much as two hours of information.

Cheney and Cole have been suspended and are to be interviewed by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators. Northwest Airlines, acquired last year by Delta Air Lines, is also investigating.
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Barack Obama's Most Annoying Habit? Winning at Tennis

Michelle Obama appeared on Jay Leno's new primetime show (via satellite feed from the White House) last night. When asked about the most annoying habit President Barack Obama has, the First Lady brought up his prowess at a sport: tennis.
"He has no annoying habits, right Jay? None, you know; he's perfect. But you know what, when he beats me at tennis, that gets to be pretty annoying. And he beats me quite often."
Michelle should take him on in bowling. As many probably recall, the President is quite bad at that sport.

Michelle Obama showed she shares the President's good sense of humor. When Leno told her she looked beautiful, she replied "You look beautiful, too," but then added "I can't see you."

Watch the video:

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